"The Fox in the Cupboard: A Memoir," by Jane Shilling (Touchstone, $24), is a vivid and deeply personal account of the hidden, beautiful world of horses and hunting in a small corner of England. With a couple of weeks unexpectedly free and no chance of going away, London-based, single mother Jane Shilling decided to pursue a childhood ambition and learn to ride. A teacher, Mrs. Rogers, was easy to find. What she hadn't expected was the 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. This debut novel is about searching for a place where you belong, about embarking on an adventure at the very point in life when you thought it was too late. It is the story of a journey without maps between the shifting worlds of town and country, childhood and adulthood, and a chronicle of the extraordinary characters the author met along the way — from her quirky, willful first horse to the farmers, hunt staff, terrier men and followers of the Ashford Valley hunt. Above all, it is the record of a secret landscape, bounded by highways and urban sprawl, but with its own character and traditions, which may soon vanish altogether.