Synopses & Reviews
What does a London-based single mother do on her holidays? With a couple of weeks unexpectedly free and no chance of going away, Jane Shilling decided she would pursue a childhood ambition and learn to ride. A teacher -- Mrs. Rogers -- was easy to find. What she hadn't reckoned on was that Mrs. Rogers was a master of foxhounds. So began Jane's odd, late-blooming affair with foxhunting: the beginning of a passion that was to take her back to the scenes of her childhood and transform her life in ways that were unexpected, often enchanting, and frequently uncomfortable.
The Fox in the Cupboard is a vivid account of discovering a hidden, beautiful, and frequently comic world of horses and hunting in a small corner of England. It is a book about searching for the place where you belong, about embarking on an adventure at the very point in your life when you thought it was too late. It is also the story of a journey between the shifting worlds of town and country, childhood and adulthood, and a chronicle of the extraordinary characters the author met along the way.
"In this splendid memoir, London Times columnist Shilling details her passion for foxhunting, a slow romance that begins midlife with a desire to ride, which she painstakingly learns to do, then escalates: she buys her own horse and becomes an avid rider and devoted hunter. The lure of foxhunting, a demanding and highly regimented sport with packs of hounds trained from puppyhood, isn't an American penchant (and foxhunting with hounds was recently outlawed in Britain), but Shilling brings the world of the hunt to vivid and bloody life. She lovingly and breathtakingly describes every detail, from the dressing of horse and rider and the wild determination of the hounds to the thrill of the chase, right down to the capture of the 'talismanic' brush (the tail of the hunted fox). In telling the history of foxhunting, the breeding of hounds, Shilling's hunt club, her move from the city (London) to the country (Greenwich) and the transcendent emotions she feels, Shilling shifts seamlessly between past and present, personal and political. Readers might find Shilling too glib on the violence of the hunt, which she insists is neither as cruel as bullfighting nor as violent as other means of 'controlling' foxes. Few may come away sharing Shilling's hunt politics, but none will fail to appreciate the provocation of her arguments nor fail to enjoy her evocative tale of her love affair with the English countryside in all its feral glory. Agent, Sarah Lutyens." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"This is a jewel of a book -- funny, well-observed and beautifully written."
-- The Spectator (UK)
"Jane Shilling has my unreserved admiration for the grace with which she writes, for the humor with which she describes the difficult journey towards becoming a competent rider...kindness...good humor and tolerance...ring through the pages of Shilling's book like bells....This is a book I shall want to read more than once."
-- Miranda Seymour, The Sunday Times
"Anybody who wants to know why the English are so crazy on the subject of foxhunting -- both those who are for it and those who are against -- can hardly do better than to read Jane Shilling's funny, touching and graceful memoir, which will also tell him (or her) a lot about the well-known fact that the English are horse crazy as well, and about the abiding (and apparently changeless) charms of rural English life."
-- Michael Korda, author of Horse People
"Jane Shilling has written a hymn to the English landscape in the great and tender tradition of English pastoral writing. Her attention to detail and her realism make this book wonderfully evocative. But it is also a personal journey of a woman who the reader cannot help but like, on her way through small tests of courage to a lifelong love. An absolutely modern book but an ancient tradition."
-- Philippa Gregory, author of The Other Boleyn Girl
Named one of 2004's best books by "The Spectator" and "The Sunday Times, The Fox in the Cupboard" is a vivid and deeply personal account of the hidden, beautiful, and frequently comic world of horses and hunting in a small corner of England.