In March this year, a small UK publisher called Arcadia published Empress Bianca, a novel by Lady Colin Campbell, who (as I pointed out in a previous post) is an author mostly interesting for her non-fiction books on the Royal family.
Booktrade.info pointed to an entertaining article about Empress Bianca in the Independent.
It seems that Lady Colin's novel is not universally admired. A wealthy lady called Lily Safra has claimed that the book is a thinly veiled version of her own life. Being wealthy, Lily can afford some heavyweight lawyers. Being small, Arcadia can't. So Arcadia have withdrawn the book and promised to destroy all copies.
Lady Colin, meanwhile, takes a dim view of all this. Unless Lily Safra withdraws her claim, Lady C will sue her. Though for what, I am not entirely clear.
Well, I haven't read the book. But, assuming for the moment that Lady Colin can afford a decent lawyer, I would put money on her rather than the complainant. I would never in a thousand years advise anyone to write a novel about a real person. But, short of some sort of foolish admission from the author, I suspect that it is, generally speaking, quite hard to prove that a fictional character is based on anything other than the author's imagination.