UK novelist writes "what if?" story based on Diana

Thu Jan 6, 2011 6:27am EST
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LONDON (Reuters) - British novelist Monica Ali has written a book based on the life of Princess Diana, and it is due to hit the shelves in March, a month before Diana's son Prince William is due to marry Kate Middleton.

The author said the timing of "Untold Story" was a coincidence.

"At first, I thought it was unfortunate timing -- I'd delivered the first draft last summer, before the engagement had been announced," she told the Daily Mail newspaper.

"But then I thought about all the negative things that have been written about Diana in the press and in non-fiction books over the years. That's all the stuff that might be hard for her sons," she added.

Diana, adored by the public in Britain and abroad for her glamorous looks and charity work, died in a Paris car crash in 1997 when she was 36. William gave his bride-to-be his mother's engagement ring.

According to the Mail, Untold Story tells of a fictional princess who has a life that is both a fairytale and a nightmare. It is described as a "what if?" tale, imagining how Diana's life might have turned out were she still alive.

"All my books are about identity," Ali said. "About what makes a person who they are. This novel is no different in that way. But, of course, writing about the world's biggest cultural icon was daunting.

"When I started researching the book, though, I was fascinated by how she broke all the boundaries, how supremely iconoclastic she was, and I had to carry on writing. The novel is my homage to her."

Ali is most famous for her debut novel "Brick Lane," about the Bangladeshi community living in London.

(Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato)