Cover image for Blackthorn winter
Blackthorn winter
Challis, Sarah.
Personal Author:
First US edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Thomas Dunne Books, 2004.

Physical Description:
345 pages ; 23 cm
Format :


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FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf

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In April, when blackthorn blossom clothes the hedgerows like a wedding veil, there sometimes comes a spell of frost or snow so severe that it seems as if spring and summer will never return. This is what country people call a blackthorn winter.

For Claudia Barron, the blackthorn winter of that particular April is like a metaphor for her whole life: for the end of glamour, financial security and marriage. Her rich and powerful husband has been sent to prison, leaving her homeless and virtually penniless. Hopeless to cling to the remnants of her old life, pointless to stand by a man who has betrayed her in almost every way a man can betray a woman.

Instead she goes into hiding, buys the only house she can afford in the Dorset village of Court Barton - a hideous bungalow built in an old kitchen garden - and changes her name. Under a cloak of anonymity she sets out to get herself a job in the local school. But villages don't much like anonymity and before very long Claudia finds herself drawn into the gossip and the grumbling, the lives and loves and quarrels of Court Barton in a way that she had never expected. Blackthorn winters do always give way to spring in the end.

Author Notes

Sarah Challis , whose father is the distinguished cinematographer Christopher Challis, traveled widely with film units as a child. She has since lived in Scotland and California but is now happily settled in a Dorset village. She is married with four sons. Blackthorn Winter is her third novel.

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

When her famous and unfaithful husband is sentenced to prison for fraud and divorce proceedings are under way, Claudia Barron eschews the London scene and moves to a modest cottage in the Dorset hills. Anonymity is her goal, but Claudia quickly discovers the alacrity of village gossip: her previous life soon becomes the focus of discussions in upper-class dining rooms and the local pub. Aided by her two grown children, Lila, a vivacious free spirit who lives in New York, and Jerome, just returning from a year in India and his own personal tragedy, Claudia forges a new identity in her adopted village. She makes ends meet first by picking mushrooms, then by cooking at the village school; she even manages to find a couple of romantic interests, as her spunky attitude attracts both a local dandy and the quiet widower next door. Inspired by the farms, fields, and stables she so obviously loves, Challis has crafted another charming village tale spiced with just the right amounts of near tragedy and romance. --Deborah Donovan Copyright 2004 Booklist