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. Her rich and powerful husband has been sent to prison, leaving her homeless and virtually penniless. She goes into hiding, buys the only house she can afford in the Dorset village of Court Barton, and changes her name. But 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..