Claire Harman, Times Literary Supplement
‘Victoria Huxley, a local historian and long-term resident, ingeniously uses the social history of this quiet Gloucestershire backwater and the grand Leigh family estate 60 miles north at Stoneleigh in Warwickshire as a window into, and perhaps, out of conventional Austen biography. What could be more appropriate…than to observe how enclosure, war and fashions such as “improvement” played out in a place familiar to her and detail some of the real-life dramas that gave ballast to Austen’s fictional ones?’
‘…the charm of Victoria Huxley’s book is its grounding in location, putting this strand of Jane Austen’s history in place physically and emotionally.’
Barbara O’Rourke in Sensibilities (no. 47)
Journal of the Jane Austen Society of Australia
December 2013 Issue
Who could resist the temptation to explore a charming English village visited on three occasions by Jane Austen? Victoria Huxley’s book takes readers on a journey to Adlestrop, the quintessential Cotswold village that has been the domain of the aristocratic Leigh family, of which Jane Austen’s mother was a member, for over 500 years. Much of Adlestrop’s interest for Austen scholars and lovers lies in the fact that it remains very much as it was in Austen’s time; ‘so unspoilt it feels as if it belongs to an earlier arcadia’ (p. 4).
Armed with a thorough knowledge of the novels and letters of Austen and of the history of the village, Huxley puts a very good case that Austen’s visits and the letters that passed between Austen and her Adlestrop connections informed the novels significantly. Many incidents from Leigh family history – issues about inheritance, titles, adoptions and name-taking, livings, landscape improvements and disapproved engagements – seem to be reflected in Austen’s novels.
While some of what is revealed here may possibly be found in other works such as biographies of Austen, Huxley presents the facts from the new perspective of Adlestrop and in so doing she manages to forge an intimate connection between her reader and Austen. This certainly makes the book a worthwhile and pleasurable read for any Austen enthusiast.
‘…paints a vivid word picture of the place and its people as Jane would have known it and, very successfully, knits them into the pattern of Jane’s novels…thanks to the dedicated work undertaken by Victoria Huxley, we can vicariously follow in Jane Austen’s footsteps and read more into her novels than a writer’s imagination. For the first time, the connection between the novelist and the small village of Adlestrop has been fully researched and written.’
Maggie Lane, Jane Austen Society Newsletter
‘The subtitle of this book is ‘Her Other Family’ and it is true that the Leighs of Adlestrop, while providing half of Jane Austen’s genes and heritage, are less written about than the Austens of Kent. …There is material that does not normally make it into standard Austen biographies and [the author’s] claim that ‘Jane was directly affected by their sagas of dynastic marriages, untimely deaths and metal instability, their quest for fashionable improvements, their money struggles and quarrels over inheritance’ is surely true.
The Oxford Times
7 May 2013 – Books Page
By Maggie Hartford, Books Editor
Victoria Huxley, who lives in Adlestrop, has opened a new window on the Cotswolds family of Jane Austen, and their influence on her work.
Austen visited her Leigh cousins several times and it was here that she first heard of Repton’s garden designs, which transformed the landscape of Adlestrop House, and may have inspired the setting of Mansfield Park. Jane Austen & Adlestrop (Windrush, £10.99) is painstakingly researched but interestingly written, highlighting other echoes of the village and its surrounding countryside in Austen’s letters and in novels.
Joceline Bury Jane Austen’s Regency World
Well-illustrated with photographs, reproductions of painted portraits, maps and family trees, this is not only a detailed portrait of an English village, but also a fascinating history of Jane Austen’s maternal forebears.
Amazon Customer Review *****
5 out of 5 stars Excellent Addition to Jane Austen Biography 13 April 2013
For someone who has already plumbed the biographical details of Jane Austen, this book offers a refreshing new aspect. Tracing back along the maternal line, Victoria Huxley reveals the rich and interesting history of the Leigh family.
With the same delight one reads about Elizabeth Bennet being taken out of her relatively humble home situation for a tour of Derbyshire and being invited into Mr Darcy’s circle at Pemberley, one follows with elevated spirits Jane Austen’s visits to Adlestrop and Stoneleigh. Other biographers merely record these visits took place. This book has taken this little bit of Austen history so often passed by, opened it up and brought it vividly to life.
The influences of such visits have clearly contributed to many of the scenes, places, houses and landscapes Jane describes in her novels. Page after page there is a delicious sense of familiarity as one walks the same pathways Jane Austen must have trod. Victoria Huxley writes in a very readable and warm style, yet her research and the inferences she makes resonate with scholarly truth and integrity.
The work is a valuable addition to any collection of Austen biography. It has redressed an imbalance in my understanding of just how well connected Jane was, and of her intimate knowledge and experience of the higher echelons of society and wealth. It has also deepened my understanding of the values, issues and attitudes of the time.
As well as enjoying this book in its own right, it also promises to enhance my pleasure in re-reading Jane Austen’s novels. When I do, it will be with a fresh eye and deeper understanding, together with a more whole view of that great author’s life.
Amazon Customer Review *****
A must for anyone interested in Jane Austen! 16 Jun 2013
We were holidaying in the Cotswolds and I thought I would take a look at the places in the area known to Jane Austen. I have a particular interest in all things JA, and this little book looked likely to help me along. It is full of detailed information which is usually only briefly referred to in any biography, and I was amazed at how reading this book (and having it to hand while exploring locations) really put into focus how important were JA’s visits to Adlestrop and its environs with regard to the creation of Mansfield Park in particular. This book is a little gem, well written and researched, with the curious ability to re-jig ones perspective of what may have influenced Jane Austen’s creative genius!
Amazon Customer Review
Satisfied 30 May 2013
I was so curious to know more about the connections of Jane Austen from this side of her family, I’m still reading it, but I like the way of managing the infos and to trace the interconnected histories. Superfast delivery. Recommended if you are fond of JA and if you have already read a detailled biography.