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Untold Story

Untold Story

A Novel

  • reading group guide
W hat if Princess Diana hadn’t died? Diana’s life and marriage were fairy tale and nightmare rolled into one. Adored by millions, in her personal life she suffered rejection, heartbreak, and betrayal. Surrounded by glamour and glitz and the constant attentions of the press, she fought to carve a meaningful role for herself in helping the needy and dispossessed. Had she lived, what direction would her life have taken? How would she have matured into her forties and beyond?

Untold Story is about the nature of celebrity, the meaning of identity, and the finding of one’s place in the world. Like Diana, the fictional princess who is the novel’s heroine is both icon and iconoclast. She touches many millions of lives and hearts around the world, sharing the details of her troubled marriage and her eating disorder and reaching out as has no other royal before her. But she is troubled and on the brink of disaster. Will she ever find peace and happiness in her own life, or will the curse of fame always be too great?
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  • Scribner | 
  • 288 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451635508 | 
  • June 2012
List Price $15.00
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Untold Story includes discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Monica Ali. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Topics & Questions for Discussion
  1. Monica Ali begins the novel with an intriguing pair of lines: “Some stories are never meant to be told. Some can only be told as fairy tales.” What do you think these lines mean? Why did Ali choose to open her novel in this way?
  2. Though the description on the book cover—not to mention certain details of the plot—make it clear that Untold Story is “inspired by Princess Diana,” why do you think Ali chose never to use Diana’s name—or the names of her family or friends—anywhere in the book?
  3. In Chapter 4, Ali introduces the diaries of Lawrence Standing, whom the reader comes to understand served as Lydia’s secretary when she was princess and helps her orchestrate her escape into a new life. Now, he reveals in his diary, that he is dying of a brain tumor. What is the function of Lawrence in this plot? How does his perspective add to your understanding of Lydia?
  4. In Lawrence’s diary, he writes of Lydia as princess: “Ti
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About the Author

Monica Ali
Photo Credit: Liz Emerson

Monica Ali

Monica Ali has been named by Granta as one of the twenty best young British novelists. She is the author of In the Kitchen, Alentejo Blue, and Brick Lane, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. She lives in London with her husband and two children.

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