Picnic at Hanging Rock

Picnic at Hanging Rock

Book - 2014
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"It was a cloudless summer day in the year 1900. Everyone at Appleyard College for Young Ladies agreed it was just right for a picnic at Hanging Rock. After lunch, a group of three girls climbed into the blaze of the afternoon sun, pressing on through the scrub into the shadows of the secluded volcanic outcropping. Farther, higher, until at last they disappeared. They never returned."--
Publisher: New York : Penguin Books, 2014
ISBN: 9780143126782
0143126784
Branch Call Number: FIC LINDSAY 2014
Characteristics: 196 pages ; 20 cm

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m
miztanyadawn
Oct 07, 2018

MMD // 31 spooky (but not too scary) books for your fall reading list // October 3, 2018

s
singidunum_25
Oct 04, 2018

Adapted for Australian mini tv series with Natalie Dormer as the headmistress.

r
Ravenya03
Aug 09, 2018

This is one of my favourite books, though I have to admit that it's not for everyone. It's a very *dense* sort of book (despite its minimal page-count), without any sort of exposition or clear resolution. The clues are there, but the author doesn't draw attention to them: the reader will have to fathom any meaning on their own. Without knowing what it's about or what it's trying to do, a lot of new readers might be frustrated at the fact the central mystery is never fully explained.

On St Valentine's Day 1900, a group of school girls from Appleyard College go to the famous Hanging Rock for a picnic. Four of the girls, plus one teacher, go for a walk into the wilderness, and only one returns.

Here's the thing: you never find out what happened to the missing girls. That's not a spoiler, in fact it's pretty self-evident from the very first page of the book. But what most readers don't realize is that this isn't a mystery story or a whodunnit: it's a psychological thriller about an inexplicable event that might be supernatural in nature. The focus is on the reaction to the disappearance from the locals, the police force, the other girls, the teachers, the community and (especially) the headmistress Mrs Appleyard.

Just as a rock thrown into a pool sends out ripples, so too does the disappearance have far-reaching consequences for the people involved. It's fascinating to watch minds and relationships unravel, for everyone to affix some sort of meaning to the strange disappearances, and to try and puzzle through the scant clues the author sees fit to share with us.

So many people I've spoken to have told me that they've always assumed "Picnic at Hanging Rock" was based on a true story - perhaps because Hanging Rock is a real place, and perhaps because the author herself played along with the misconception. But it makes sense that an urban legend would emerge around the book: it's so atmospheric, so eerie and unique - love it or hate it, it's certainly not something you'd forget in a hurry.

s
Sarah1984
May 04, 2016

13/4 - I read this about seven years ago, long before I found GR or made an effort to write more than a line or two declaring "I liked this" or "I didn't like this". So, it's been sitting on my 'reread to review' shelf for ages, waiting for me to find the right motivation to read it again. I finally found it in this year's POPSUGAR challenge with their 'A Book that Takes Place in Your Hometown (Melbourne)' category. I was quite excited when I saw that category for two reasons. First because I knew that I would be able to kill two birds with one stone - get a book off the aforementioned shelf and fulfil the POPSUGAR challenge category. Second because there's not that many books actually set in Melbourne. Of course there are lots of Australian authors, Melburnians even, but I can only think of two books that I've read that were set in Melbourne - this one and a true crime that's also sitting on my 'reread to review' shelf. So coming across a book to fit this apparently sparse category so quickly was encouraging.

Anyway, to the book. My main complaint with it is that I don't like open-ended/choose your own ending endings where I have to use my imagination to decide what happened. I just find them frustrating and want to ask the author why the hell they decided to leave me hanging like this. Couldn't they think up something a bit more satisfying? That was what I thought with this book, but then I Wikipediaed the Hanging Rock to learn more of the history and see some pictures and learned something even more interesting. There was an 18th chapter that wasn't published with the original book but has since been published as a separate 'booklet', which reveals what really happened to the girls. I read it and (view spoiler). I'm not sure whether I wish I hadn't read it or I'm glad I did because it was (view spoiler), but at the same time I do now know the secret so the frustration over not knowing is gone, but I have new frustrations because of what I said under the spoiler tags above.

*Update* 1/5/16
I just watched the 1975 movie, it didn't improve my opinion of the story as a whole. It was full of synthesised 'woo-woo' music and long 'soap opera' looks that I'm sure were meant to impart some emotion, I'm just not sure what it was (even after reading the book). I'm a fan of Peter Weir (the director) for his movies Master and Commander and Gallipoli but I wouldn't recommend this one, it was just too weird for my tastes.

s
shadynz
Nov 20, 2013

Took a while to get into, but once I did, I could not put this book down.
The mystery is so deep, an urban myth has grown around it!

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