Ms Pasternak says the American writer’s 2019 bestseller The Secrets We Kept borrows heavily from her 2016 book, Lara: The Untold Love Story and the Inspiration for Doctor Zhivago. Ms Prescott told the judge that the publication of her novel was the ‘fulfillment of a lifelong dream’, but the court case had turned the success of her award-winning bestseller into a nightmare.
In her book, Ms Pasternak lays out her theory that Olga Ivinskaya, her great-uncle’s wife, was the real inspiration for Lara Antipova, the central character in Boris Pasternak’s much-loved novel.
But at the High Court, Ms Prescott accused her rival of ‘copying and pasting’ sections of earlier books about her relative for her own work, which Ms Prescott’s lawyers say contains an ‘astonishing’ amount of “copy”.
She said, “I knew I was named after Lara, the character in the movie.”
“As a daughter, my mother loved David Lean’s film adaptation of Doctor Zhivago, as well as the book it was based on. As a child, I would wind her musical jewelry box over and over to hear her play Lara’s theme and watch the little ballerina inside slowly spinning.
She added: “Today I am working on a second novel while being a first-time mother to a toddler during a pandemic. These allegations and claim have been very stressful.”
“Publishing The Secrets We Kept has been the fulfillment of a lifelong dream and I am very proud of it. Still, sometimes I wish I hadn’t written it.”
“Not because Anna Pasternak is right, but because the book and its success put me in her crosshairs. I felt so much anger and sadness receiving these claims and threats.”
“I always thought a Pasternak might challenge my portrayal of Boris. I never thought I would be accused of copying.
Ms Prescott admits to having read Ms Pasternak’s book and including it in the acknowledgments of her novel.
But she says she had already been writing for two years before seeing her rival’s book and denies her influence was “substantial”.
Instead, she claims she and Ms Pasternak relied on the same historical sources, including Olga Ivinskaya’s memoir A Captive of Time and Sergio D’Angelo’s The Pasternak Affair.
Dr Zhivago is Boris Pasternak’s most famous work and the subject of David Lean’s 1965 blockbuster, in which Lara is played by Julie Christie with Omar Sharif in the title role.
The novel follows the love story of Yuri Zhivago and Lara Antipova during the Russian Revolution and World War I.
The hearing continues.