'Princess in Love' author explains her motives: Writer's attempt 'to set record straight by sophisticated analysis of woman's journey through adversity' does not impress first readers

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The Independent Online
ANNA PASTERNAK, a great- niece of the Russian novelist Boris Pasternak, says she resolved to write a book about the former army officer James Hewitt's love affair with the Princess of Wales on 29 June when Prince Charles admitted during a television interview with Jonathan Dimbleby that he had been unfaithful with Camilla Parker-Bowles.

Ms Pasternak, 27, a journalist, was appalled. Earlier in the year she had interviewed Mr Hewitt about his friendship with the Princess for a slightly anoydyne series of interviews in the Daily Express. Mr Hewitt, who was retiring from the Army after failing to qualify as a major, was paid pounds 40,000.

In the months following the interview, Mr Hewitt came to trust Ms Pasternak because she respected his confidences about his relationship with the Princess and was very supportive after many of his army friends dropped him in the wake of what he felt to be unfair press criticism of his behaviour and revelations.

It was only when, she said yesterday, Prince Charles publicly admitted his adultery and the nation knew the royal marriage was a sham that she persuaded Mr Hewitt to let her write the book.

She told him ' 'At the end of the day the public respect the truth. They condemn you because they don't know the truth about how you stood by this woman through the most traumatic time of her life and her marriage'. He said 'Well you must do as you think best'. So I said 'OK I am going to write this story as a book'.'

That, at least, is her story. She strenuously denies that Mr Hewitt has been paid anything for his revelations. He has not, she adds, even read it yet. And suggestions that they have had an affair are 'totally and utterly untrue'. She has been paid an undisclosed advance and will receive royalties. Industry sources suggest this advance could be an unprecedented pounds 190,000, but Bloomsbury Publishing scoffs at reports that the whole deal could be worth pounds 3m.

Ms Pasternak says she and her literary agent, Patrick Walsh, of Christopher Little literary agents, approached Bloomsbury because 'they are a very upmarket literary publishing house' who would give the book the right 'feel of sophistication'. The manuscript, she adds, was not hawked around to other publishers because at that time it was not even written.

She spent five and a half weeks writing the book in a cottage near Marlow, Buckinghamshire, and delivered the manuscript two weeks ago. Penny Phillips and her husband, David Reynolds, editors with Bloomsbury, then spent eight days late last month holed up in the Stag and Huntsman, a pub in Hambledon, Buckinghamshire, editing it.

On Monday 26 September, it was flown to Edinburgh to be typeset. Ms Phillips proofread it on Wednesday in Edinburgh and flew back on Thursday morning with camera-ready copy which was then delivered to the printers, Clays of Bungay, Suffolk.

An initial print run of 75,000 copies was delivered to the bookshops yesterday morning. It is believed that an additional 150,000 copies are being printed.

Ms Pasternak, who read geography at Christ Church, Oxford, says she intended to 'try to make the public see it as a very moving story, it's a very sad story'. She did not intend to write anything sensational, sleazy or salacious.

'My motives have only ever been to try and set the record straight for both of them really,' she says 'I am a great fan of the Princess of Wales. I think she has had a tremendously difficult time and this is very much a book of a woman's journey to find herself, as it were, through adversity.

'They may write this off as a Mills and Boon but I was really trying to get a slightly more sophisticated analysis of the emotions across.'

'He is a very lonely, very sad man who has lost everything. He has only ever wanted the best for her. I just felt that if the public could really see the true story; if they could try to understand that really he risked his life to be with this woman, who had such a tremendous need and put that need on him, and he was able to fulfil it, that perhaps they would not judge him with such a harsh tone.'

Ms Phillips says the manuscript was well written but sometimes 'a bit over effusive' because the author felt so strongly about her subjects. 'You may still think that there are some bits that are (over effusive), but it is a romantic story, it's not meant to be a historical document. I am not saying it's inaccurate, I mean it's supposed to read fluently.'

Toffs kiss and tell, page 16

(Photographs omitted)