By Monica Ali
Completed August 15, 2011
Princess Diana may be the most recognizable face of the 20th century, and her untimely death shortened a life plagued by international attention, betrayal and personal angst. Monica Ali, in Untold Story, considers this scenario: What if Princess Diana staged her death, to escape the constant scrutiny and insurmountable pressure? Could she truly escape her past life – or would it manage to follow her around like an unwanted ghost?
In the book, Diana becomes Lydia – a dark-haired English woman who settles in a small town, where she makes new friends, finds a love interest and works at a local dog rescue. Then, as fate would have it, a member of the English paparazzi, John Grabowski, ends up in the same town and meets Lydia. Something about Lydia’s eyes reminds John of his once-favorite photographic subject, Princess Diana. Is John on to Lydia’s secret?
Where Untold Story worked well for me were the chapters where the reader can see Lydia interacting with her friends and her rising paranoia about John’s presence in her new hometown. Lydia could be impulsive and obsessive, especially when nervous, and her actions after John’s arrival marked a woman who wanted to protect her new identity – no matter the cost. She already gave up her life once; she didn’t want to do it again. The reckless Lydia made good reading – and added a sense of realism to Lydia’s character.
Untold Story would be a great book club selection, and I think fans of Princess Diana would find this novel to be interesting. I liked the book overall, though I think Ali could have made the side characters more believable. I do have to wonder: What would the Queen think about this book? ( )