There are certain events that live on in all of us. Everyone remembers exactly where they were when the world changed. It’s natural to want to look back and think, “What if….” What if it had been different? What if it had never happened at all? Monica Ali does that in her new novel Untold Story with the death of Princess Diana. July 1, 2011 marks what would be the 50th birthday of Princess Di, and in Untold Story, she lives to see it. What kind of woman would she be?
There are plenty of world events that cause us to sit back and think about how drastically they changed our world. In all of these novels, something about our world or our history is different. All three authors answer that important question: “What if?”
The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick – This is one of the more famous examples of an alternative history, since The Man in the High Castle won the Hugo Award in 1963. In 1933, a man assassinates Franklin D. Roosevelt, which means the United States is never brought out of the depression and, because of isolationist policy by the president who replaces him, the US never enters WWII. Without the help of the American army, the Allies are defeated by the Axis powers. Pearl Harbor results in the destruction of the Navy and results in Japan taking over the West Coast, creating the Pacific States of America. Though the differences between our world and this alternative reality are clear from the beginning, the history is revealed slowly. Though I gave you the basics here, this is a richly detailed story that examines how drastically different our culture would be if the Axis had won.
The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey – What if Richard III is not the evil man that history has made him out to be? When Inspector Alan Grant sees a painting of the monarch, he simply cannot believe that a man with such a kind face could be so evil. So Grant decides to solve the mystery of who Richard III really was and who really killed his nephews, if not Richard III himself.
The Black Tower by Louis Bayard – This book takes several real people from the years following the French Revolution and posits that Louis XVII of France, son of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, didn’t die as is claimed in 1795, but escaped his prison. With Eugène François Vidocq, the infamous criminal-turned-first private detective, as the narrator, this historical fiction tale is full of mystery and intrigue.