Monica Ali, Untold Story
A timely page-turner that conjures a hypothetical life for Lady Di
Perhaps Monica Ali consulted on that much-mocked Newsweek cover? The one that featured a digitally-aged Princess Diana strutting alongside Kate Middleton, the new daughter-in-law she’d never actually be able to meet? In any case, Monica Ali shares a sensibility — a sense of absurdity, really — with Tina Brown’s art department.
Ali’s new novel is a tabloid-addled thriller, richly imagined — and fantastically trashy. Untold Story conjures a hypothetical life for Lady Di. What if she didn’t die in that 1997 Paris car crash but, sick of the limelight, faked her own drowning instead? Skipped across the pond, Princess Diana — now “Lydia”— lives in American suburbia (though the name of new hometown, Kensington, still stinks of Anglo pomp). “Lydia” has traded her famous blonde coif for long, brunette tresses, and she hides her big blue eyes behind dusky contact lenses. She’s a dog handler now and leads a quiet life in the company of three close female friends and a boyfriend named Carson, to whom she never truly opens up. Her carefully constructed new life goes to pieces when one of the paparazzo who spent his early career chasing Princess Diana around London spots Lydia (she isn’t wearing her contacts that day) and detects not only blue eyes, but blue blood too.
Untold Story is a timely page-turner, and Ali couldn’t have asked for a better publication date. Her themes — media manipulation, ruthless reporting, the rights of our public figures to private lives — are particularly timely ones.