Born in Buckinghamshire, England; daughter of Christopher Challis (a cinematographer); married; children: four sons.
Home—Dorset, England. Agent—c/o Author Mail, St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010.
Killing Helen, Headline (London, England), 2000.
Turning for Home, Headline (London, England), 2001, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Blackthorn Winter, Headline (London, England), 2003, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2004.
On Dancing Hill, Headline (London, England), 2004.
English author Sarah Challis spent most of her career teaching before turning to fiction with her debut title, Killing Helen, the tale of a woman's affair with a married man. Her second novel and first title published in the United States, Turning for Home, appeared in America in 2003. A critic for Kirkus Reviews described it as a "surprisingly affecting tale about an old lady's (and an old horse's) last chance for the grand life." Maeve Delaney is a twenty-six-year-old woman who leaves her wandering and down-at-the-heels life to become the companion to eight-four-year-old Lady Pamela. Maeve and Lady Pamela form an odd couple: the young woman went to a fancy private school, but the divorce of her parents has permanently scarred her. Lady Pamela, on the other hand, is hoping that death will beat the plans of her daughter-in-law, Bunty, to send her to an old folks' home so that Bunty can take over Pamela's lovely country home.
Maeve thus comes into this mix like a "wild, foulmouthed, sexy Mary Poppins," according to the Kirkus Reviews critic, and is not fooled or cowed by Lady Pamela's gruff ways. Lady Pamela, for her part, has longed for a replacement for her child, Lizzie, who died young. Other members of Challis's cast include a handsome local veterinarian, an old admirer of Lady Pamela's, and an injured horse, Irish Dancer. Booklist critic Deborah Donovan noted that "ties between generations are at the heart of this romantic saga set outside London." Donovan also found that this second novel was "packed with robust characters, romance for both young and old, and heart-tugging tragedy." Similarly, Harriet Klausner, writing on the Best Reviews Web site, felt that "fans who relish a modern day tale of manners will want to read this English character study."
Challis is also the author of Blackthorn Winter, which is set in a Dorset village where a mysterious woman has come to live incognito, and On Dancing Hill, which is also set in England's county of Dorset and involves the lives of a farming family and the challenges they face in the modern world.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, May 15, 2003, Deborah Donovan, review of Turning for Home, p. 1642.
Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2003, review of Turning for Home, p. 492.
Best Reviews,http://thebestreviews.com/ (April 13, 2003), Harriet Klausner, review of Turning for Home.
Hodder Headline Web Site,http://www.hodderheadline.co.uk/ (June 18, 2004).*