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Monica Ali was born in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and grew up in England. She is one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists of the decade, Newcomer of the Year at the 2004 British Book Awards and has been nominated for most of the major literary prizes in Britain. Brick Lane was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, the George Orwell Prize for political writing and the prestigious Commonwealth Writers' Prize.
Internationally there has been similar recognition including, in the United States, the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Los Angeles Times ‘First Fiction’ Prize where the book was shortlisted.
Monica Ali lives in London with her husband and two children, and is working on her next novel.
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; another sells houses; another is a frenzied stay-at-home mother. Lydia works at an animal shelter and swims every morning. Her lover, who adores her, feels she won't let him know her. Who is she? Imagine if this woman was once one of the most famous living on our planet? A woman who captivated the entire world? A woman whose sudden death was mourned by millions. Who is she?
What if Princess Diana hadn't died? Diana's life and marriage were fairy tale and nightmare. Adored by millions, in her personal life she suffered heartbreak and betrayal. Within a life of privilege, she frequently felt trapped and alone. Constrained by protocol and precedent, she refused to follow the rules. Untold Story takes the life of the world's most famous woman as a point of departure, examining the past and imagining a future. The fictional princess who is the novel's heroine is at breaking point and, believing that the Establishment is plotting her assassination, she makes an irrevocable decision: to stage her own death and begin a new life under an assumed identity. After a period of intense upheaval, Lydia (as she is known) settles in small town America and establishes a fragile peace. It is threatened by thoughts of what she has lost: not the glamour and glitz of royalty but that which is most precious - her children. She is, at least, safe in the knowledge - having altered her appearance and ten years after her 'death' - that her secret will never be uncovered. But then a chance encounter with a member of the paparazzi robs her of that certainty. Will he recognize her? Should she flee or remain calm? Is there anyone she can trust and turn to, or will she inevitably be betrayed? Untold Story is a novel about family and friendship, intrigue and obsession, the meaning of identity, and the peculiar calamity of fame.
A follow up to Brick Lane this story revolves around Gabriel Lightfoot, head chef at a London hotel. On discovering a murdered body at the hotel we follow how this affects Gabriel from his thoughts about his staff to his memories of his childhood and family. A sensitive novel with some great characterisations.
What else can we say about this outrageously sucessful first novel - rich, complex and rewarding and a 'must' read.