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Untold Story: A Novel Audiobook, by Monica Ali Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Monica Ali Narrator: Emma Fielding, Nicholas Farrell Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: June 2011 ISBN: 9781442345447
2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 2.00 (1,182 ratings) (rate this audio book)
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When Princess Diana died in Paris’s Alma tunnel, she was thirty-seven years old. Had she lived, she would turn fifty on July 1, 2011. Who would the beloved icon be if she were alive today? What would she be doing? And where? One of the most versatile and bold writers of our time, Monica Ali has imagined a different fate for Diana in her spectacular new novel, Untold Story

Diana’s life and marriage were both fairy tale and nightmare rolled into one. Adored by millions, she suffered rejection, heartbreak, and betrayal. Surrounded by glamour and glitz and the constant attention of the press, she fought to carve a meaningful role for herself in helping the needy and dispossessed. The contradictions and pressures of her situation fueled her increasingly reckless behavior, but her stature and her connection with her public never ceased to grow. If Diana had lived, would she ever have found peace and happiness, or would the curse of fame always have been too great? 

Fast forward a decade after the (averted) Paris tragedy, and an Englishwoman named Lydia is living in a small, nondescript town somewhere in the American Midwest. She has a circle of friends: one owns a dress shop; one is a Realtor; another is a frenzied stay-at-home mom. Lydia volunteers at an animal shelter, and swims a lot. Her lover, who adores her, feels she won’t let him know her. Who is she? 

Untold Story is about the cost of celebrity, the meaning of identity, and the possibility—or impossibility—of reinventing a life. Ali’s fictional princess is beautiful, intrepid, and resourceful and has established a fragile peace. And then the past threatens to destroy her new life. Ali has created a riveting novel inspired by the cultural icon she calls “a gorgeous bundle of trouble.”

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Monica Ali has always been a brilliant and provocative writer, but Untold Story is not only a gripping read but a compassionate portrait of a woman in turmoil—her finest novel yet."

    Gary Shteyngart, New York Times bestselling author of Super Sad True Love Story

  • “Haunting and intensely readable, this is something between a thriller and a ghost story.”

    Lady Antonia Fraser, New York Times bestselling author

  • “An unapologetic hybrid of a novel, a literary examination of identity and a page-turning thriller, complete with car chase.”

    O, The Oprah Magazine

  • “Astonishing…Tightly structured and lyrically told.”

    People (four stars)

  • “Ms. Ali builds tension as slickly as any thriller screenwriter: we find ourselves avidly rooting for Lydia to elude her stalker and somehow to hold on to the normal life she has made for herself.”

    New York Times

  • “A dazzling feat...All the pistons are firing.”

    Washington Post

  • “Norman Rockwell couldn’t paint a more affectionate portrait of small-town America.”

    USA Today

  • “Irresistible...Lydia’s unsent letters...are delightful, containing the novel’s emotional core.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Ali tells her story with unobtrusive, restrained prose...We’ve long since disappeared into the fiction. Lydia has become her own character, Diana a ghost: naive and vulnerable, self-centered, familiar to us in her self-destruction and her dark fairy-tale life but now entirely real and sympathetic. This remarkable transformation allows Ali to ponder the essence of what makes a person: in this case the sheer tenacity of a clever fighter, both silly and bold—and clearly the author’s impetus for taking on, with astounding confidence, the woman who captivated the entire world.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “Builds to a thrilling and rewarding finish…Daring and engrossing.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • Selected for the August 2011 Indie Next List
  • A New York Times Bestseller

Listener Reviews

Write a Review
  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Anita | 2/12/2014

    " This book is horrible. It's a fictitous story about Princess Diana...she didn't die, she is hiding in the US, her hair dyed, etc. And,she left her children in England...abandoned them! Now, Diana would be turning over in her grave. This book is a piece of crap. Don't bother reading it even if it's free! I didn't finish it because it really tarnished the memory of this remarkable young woman. Shame on Monica Ali for trying to make a buck off so much heartache! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Arlene | 2/11/2014

    " Well as a big Diana Fan, I could hardly wait to get my hands on this book. However it did not live up to my expectations. I think it is hard to imagine that Diana could ever live in obscurity in a small town...and it is hard to imagine that she would walk away from her boys. Say what you will about her, she was a caring mother. The book was slow and tedious and by the end I was just skimming through it, ready for it to come to an end. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lu | 1/17/2014

    " An ok read that didn't live up to its potential, but then neither did Diana. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dona | 1/14/2014

    " I enjoyed this book very much until the last page - say what?????????? Can I just say I HATE books that end with you sitting there scratching your head and trying to figure out what in the heck happened. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jessie | 1/12/2014

    " I listened to an interview with the author of this book on NPR and thought it sounded like an intriguing idea. I've never been that interested in Princess Diana and I don't know much about her, but I think that makes me a better reader for this book than one who would be concerned about the author getting the details 'right'. I thought this felt a bit like a modern fairy tale, particularly in the author's use of language. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cindy | 1/6/2014

    " This was my 2nd book in a row with a "what if" plot. I liked the book, it was an interesting look into the life of Princess Di. Although SKing book was much better. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mary | 1/3/2014

    " I would love to give this book four stars, but it doesn't quite deserve them. It's an interesting premise and told convincingly, but I never felt for a moment that I obtained any real insight into Diana or her life. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Adrienne | 12/3/2013

    " A decent read. I liked the first half though better than the ending. It seemed to drag on a little too long. Entertaining if you like royals... "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Colleen | 11/22/2013

    " I likd th prmis and that's probably th only rason I finishd. I was curious to C how it would nd. It just wasn't that grat...What would hav happnd if Princss Diana had fakd hr dath? How would sh b living today? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gee | 11/1/2013

    " My review to come. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Toby | 5/16/2013

    " I couldn't resist the premise, that Princess Diana didn't die in a car crash, but instead disappeared to live a quiet suburban life in the American Midwest. So far, it's working for me...although now that I've finished, I'm not sure what happened in the end. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Gina | 1/15/2013

    " Fairy tale concept. Weak and disappointing. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kelly | 11/1/2012

    " just ok - great concept but a bit tedious in execution. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Neal | 5/4/2012

    " Strange story that imagines Princess Diana's life if the accident that claimed her life in 1997 was merely a ruse to get her out of the public eye. Not fully convincing, but being a major fan of Diana's I found it a compelling read. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Linda | 3/9/2012

    " I thought that this book was pretty stupid. I bought it at the airport before a long flight home, just because I needed something to read. I skimmed through the middle of it. I can't believe Oprah recommended it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Cath | 10/26/2011

    " If you love Diana then this may be for you. Not one of Monica Ali's best as far as I'm concerned, preferred Brick Lane. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jen | 10/6/2011

    " Parts of this book were amazing. Haven't we all fantasized about just walking away from it all? Not as easy as it seems. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Marion | 7/8/2011

    " A great premise - what would Diana's life be like had she lived? - and suspensefully handled. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Joe | 4/28/2011

    " The first chapter was one of the best I've ever read. After that, there was a sharp fall-off with the introduction of less interesting characters. To me this was a disappointing novel after Brick Lane. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Chanpheng | 3/20/2010

    " I liked most of the individual stories chronicled in this book but Ali didn't combine them very well at the end of the book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gaurett | 7/12/2009

    " I can't believe an Indian female could portray a portugeese villiage so realistically. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Eva | 6/30/2009

    " Nothing to recommend it. One of the most overrated books of the year. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Debra | 3/31/2009

    " I liked it, and I suspect that anyone who has ever been an ex-pat, or experienced ex-pats in their own environment, would find *something* they recognized in this book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Marybla | 2/28/2009

    " The setting for this novel is in Portugal. There are so many great South Asian writers but most only write about Indian culture. this book is a welcome departure from a really good writer. With that said, I did not enjoy the twists and turns of Alentejo Blue as much as I did Brickwood Lane. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bonnie | 1/25/2009

    " The writing is often beautiful and the individual vignettes are usually quite striking, however the ending is a forced linkage of disparate lives. Perhaps I missed some common thread, other than the location.

    Of all the stories, Vasco's is the most beautiful, and most painful. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Shirin | 12/28/2008

    " I just couldn't get into it, despite the fact that I hate abandoning books and really enjoyed Brick Lane. If anyone can please tell me why I should push on, please do! "

About the Author

Monica Ali was born in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and grew up in England. She was named one of the twenty best young British novelists by Granta and is the author of the novel Brick Lane, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and is now a major motion picture, and Alentejo Blue, a story collection. She lives in London with her husband and two young children.

About the Narrators

Emma Fielding has narrated numerous audiobooks and earned two AudioFile Earphones Awards. She is an award-winning actress who has appeared in numerous television shows, films, and plays. A graduate of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, she has worked for the Royal National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company. She has also appeared on Broadway, in Private Lives, and in the West End, in Rock ’n’ Roll.

Nicholas Farrell is a stage, film, and television actor. He has starred in such films as Chariots of Fire and Pearl Harbor, as well as dozens of television shows. He is a graduate of the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in Bristol, England.