From the back
In April, when blackthorn blossom clothes the hedgerows like a wedding veil, there sometimes comes a frost so severe that it seems as if the summer will never come. Country people call this a blackthorn winter. For Claudia Barron, arriving in the Dorset village of Court Barton that April, blackthorn winter seems like a metaphor for everything that has happened to her. Hiding from her previous life, she adopts an assumed name and applies for a job in the local school. But villages don't much like mysteries and secrets and soon the inhabitants of Court Barton set out to find out what it is that Claudia Barron is hiding from and why.
This is a nice fairly undemanding read - very different from Footprints in the Sand - the only other Sarah Challis I have read. The story is set mainly in a Dorsetshire village, and the description of village life is excellent - as I have never lived in a village like this I can't say if it's a realistic picture or not. We have the snooty woman at the big house, opening her garden to the public, and trying to keep up certain standards, the loudmouthed cleaner with a deliquent son, a young "tinker" girl who rides barebacked and whose father studies the hedgerows from an old bus they live in, are just some of them. Claudia comes to the village to escape, and begins work as a school cook. Soon she and her grown up children - who come to visit - are involved with many of the people from the village. However they have a secret - which of course is just waiting to come out.
I enjoyed this book, it's nicdly written, and the the descriptions of the English countryside are particularly lovely.