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An alternative cover edition for this ISBN can be found hereWhile Joan Lindsay's haunting Australian classic Picnic at Hanging Rock is a work of fiction the story is often considered one of Australia's greatest mysteriesIn 1900 a class of young women from an exclusive private school go on an excursion to the isolated Hanging Rock deep in the Australian bush The excursion ends in tragedy when three girls and a teacher mysteriously vanish after climbing the rock Only one girl returns with no memory of what has become of the others

10 thoughts on “Picnic at Hanging Rock

  1. says:

    ah and there you are my perfect little novel it has been some time since last we've embraced come let us reacuaint ourselves but what is that you say and so modestly? what is so perfect about you? my sweet darling don't be so shy you are indeed a wondrous creation here let me count the ways1 your mystery is timeless three schoolgirls and one schoolmistress disappear on Valentine's Day afternoon in 1900 in australia at the mysterious Hanging Rock where did they go? did Nature take them as revenge for all the injustices done against her? or perhaps she simply saw four enchanted individuals who belonged to her and not to the worldly world that they seemed to float above? upon their disappearance a sad and tragic series of events unfolds and broadens and so the mystery becomes larger a pattern of sorts is created; many uestions rise to the surface of a once placid community how do our actions impact others? how does a tragedy reverberate and affect all those connected how does it resonate in others and bring forth emotions and thoughts and actions that they never knew could exist? the mystery at the heart of this novel is like a stone tossed in a lake the mystery drops into the water past the surface not to be seen again but the water ripples outward concentric circles opening wider and wider that reach so much further beyond that initial impact that initial drop into the unknown 2 your prose is lovely not a single word is out of place so artful yet never overly mannered so charming yet never coy or affected so dry yet never cold blooded you manage to be both dreamy and precise your points are made with nuance and subtlety you do not hammer away relentlessly but are instead content to murmur your sharp but rather ambiguous comments all the better for your audience to contemplate them at leisure you say in your trim 213 pages than many novels that clock in at over twice your length3 your narrative a jewel box so compact and full of intriguing things and even better it is a magic box its interior is larger than its exterior in just a few pages here and there it outlines the lives and futures of a half dozen characters in a way that is clear and meaningful and real and often surprisingly ironic truth be told your story is an often cruel one with little or no hope for several of its characters and yet you note these twists and turns with the lightest of touches this light touch does not reduce the stories to anecdote but instead allows these lives these deaths these tragically missed opportunities and these happy endings to evoke a fable's simplicity 4 your characters are only briefly but efficiently characterized and yet they are indelible here is the boy who is courageous and idealistic and who lives above the world and who rescued the wrong girl or at least the wrong girl for him here is the girl who loved the world around her so much that she could not leave it and so was rescued and who then found that the love of her life that brave rescuer was not for her here is the loyal friend rooted in the physical rough and shy an ideal companion for a wistful idealist a secret and almost unrecognized hero one who is rewarded beyond his wildest imaginings here is the tragic sister a rebel an artist an orphan alone in the world roughly handled emotionally and physically yet loved and cared for but alas unknowingly a wilting flower destined for a flowerbed and there is our awful villain Mrs Appleyard the Headmistress dour and dreadful and rather grand a monster who comes undone5 you leave me with that intriguing unnerving feeling of Wanting To Know More it is a wonderful thing and there is so much to consider most of all why did those girls and their schoolmarm disappear? you throw out a bold red herring in your varied descriptions of nature being trampled underfoot by clumsy unknowing humans perhaps it is Nature's Revenge you seem to suggest upon a closer reading you offer a far ambiguous yet provocative interpretation one based upon the nature of those who disappeared they were not of this world in spirit or in deed with this reading their disappearance becomes less of a tragedy and of an epiphany the girls and their mistress have moved beyond us all and our petty concerns; their lives were spent reaching beyond this mortal coil and so perhaps they have escaped it and entered a new realm a higher plane but in the end i do not believe the mystery itself is the point of your story i think that the tale of Picnic at Hanging Rock is less about what has happened and about what does it all mean is there a greater implication a pattern even to all of our little actions and to all of our little lives one that exists beyond us one that connects us to each other and to a world beyond?here in your own lovely words is where i found the true purpose behind your strange thoughtful talePeering down between the boulders Irma could see the glint of water and tiny figures coming and going through drifts of rosy smoke or mist 'Whatever can those people be doing down there like a lot of ants?' Marion looked out over her shoulder 'A surprising number of human beings are without purpose Although it's probable of course that they are performing some necessary function unknown to themselves' Irma was in no mood for one of Marion's lectures The ants and their business were dismissed without further comment Although Irma was aware for a little while of a rather curious sound coming up from the plain Like the beating of far off drumsoh the glorious mystery of it all but a person may ask what does it all truly mean? what is the exact point how does this all add up what specific message are we supposed to glean? well never fear you charming perfect book i am not one to kiss and tell your secrets shall remain safe with me

  2. says:

    ”He reminded himself that he was in Australia Australia where anything might happen In England everything had been done before uite often by one’s own ancestors over and over again” Two years ago I watched a film based on the book by Joan Lindsay A month ago I watched a marvelous TV series adaptation of the same novel Both versions were eerie dark atmospheric I’ve always wanted to read Picnic at Hanging Rock and the opportunity came with the Movie Night discussion in Zuky’s wonderful group ”The BookBum Club” Unfortunately the result left me disappointedMrs Appleyard is the formidable headmistress of a school for girls of the upper classes in Australia They are taught how to behave and how NOT to think in order to become good wives This should be their only aspiration in life During a picnic on StValentine’s day three senior students Miranda Irma and Marion are lost So is one of the teachers They disappear in the area of the Hanging Rock a place where mystery and wild beauty co exist What happened to the girls? What is happening in the school? Why such severity and absolute lack of compassion? What secrets does Mrs Appleyard hide?There are moments of breathtaking beauty in this novel The descriptions of the natural environment the nightly scenes dedicated to the characters’ actions are absolutely fascinating However the dialogue leaves a lot to be desired in my opinion My main complaint is the lack of development of any kind There was no development in the characters which is a pity since most of them surely hide uite a lot of secrets From the teachers to the students the claustrophobic environment that exists side by side with the beautiful threatening unruly nature provided a uniue setting that I felt was wasted in endless descriptions of the life of the two young men of the story that were completely useless No wonder that I enjoyed the film and TV versions so much than the novelIt’s such a pity reallyThere was so much potential and at times the writing was remarkable Like a mist and a stormHowever upon reading the last page I was underwhelmed and disappointed

  3. says:

    Australia is a harsh unforgiving land where the seasons are inverted from what is usually experienced by the world at large the flora and fauna belong to an evolutionary niche not seen elsewhere and the original settlers are the descendants of deported convicts Yet over this an English ness has been imposed the carefully cultivated gardens the finely turned out ladies and gentlemen the afternoon teas and the elevenses This contrast often gives rise to a tension between man and nature which has been explored by countless writers and filmmakers This novel by Joan Lindsay is an outstanding example of one such explorationHanging Rock is a natural volcanic rock formation in Australia near Melbourne As the story starts a group of young girls boarders at Mrs Appleyard's College for Young Ladies is excitedly starting for their annual picnic near it on February 14 St Valentine's Day There is Miranda beautiful like a Botticelli painting; Irma Leopold the pretty heiress; Marion uade top academic performer; Edith Horton the college dunce and many others They are chaperoned by the young and impressionable Mademoiselle Dianne de Poitiers the French mistress and the mathematics mistress Greta McCraw who lives virtually in a world of euations They are driven to the spot by Ben Hussey the owner of the town's livery stables in his trap The only student left behind is Sara Waybourne the youngest boarder as a punishment for not learning The Wreck of the Hesperus by heartThe picnic goes well until teatime when Miranda Irma and Marion decide to go closer to the Hanging Rock to properly examine it Edith tags along They are seen by the young Hon Michael Fitzhubert visiting from England with his uncle and his coachman Albert Crundall Fitzhubert captivated by Miranda's beauty follows them for a bit then turns back That is the last anyone sees of them however because all except Edith who rushes back in an attack of hysteria disappear without a trace; as does the mathematics mistress The mystery is never solvedThe novel is the chronicle of the fallout from this event how the lives of all the people connected with it even the minor characters are inextricably changed At the outset the author writesWhether Picnic at Hanging Rock is fact or fiction my readers must decide for themselves As the fateful picnic took place in the year 1900 and all the characters who appear in this book are long since dead it hardly seems importantThis is the tone set right at the beginning that of the true story with uotes from letters and reports peppered throughout the narrative and even footnotes in some places In many places the writing becomes reportage; in others it reads like an inexpert author trying to fictionalise historical characters and events It is only when we realise that none of this happened that we come to appreciate what Joan Lindsay is trying to do and we acknowledge her mastery of the mediumIf whether something really happened seems hardly important what does it say about the nature of the story? Is truth important here or is there a truth beyond the phenomenal world which we consider rock solid?As the story progresses people's behaviour becomes increasingly eccentric The college a solid bastion of English respectability in the middle of wild Australia slowly unravels as does the redoubtable headmistress Appleyard The tension between her and the orphan Sara whom she subjects to mental torture mercilessly is like a taut elastic band which is stretched and stretched until it breaks with disastrous results It is also to be noted that Sara idolises Miranda who is almost a myth an ethereal vision which fittingly disappearsBut the real protagonist of the story is Hanging Rock the volcanic formation which is millions and millions of years old standing ominously tall above all the puny humans crawling around like ants at its base ephemeral beings whose unimaginably tiny lifetimes it must have surely smiled at mockinglyThe plain below was just visible; infinitely vague and distant Peering down between the boulders Irma could see the glint of water and tiny figures coming and going through drifts of rosy smoke or mist 'Whatever can those people be doing down there like a lot of ants?'Marion looked out over her shoulder 'A surprising number of human beings are without purpose Although it's probable of course that they are performing some necessary function unknown to themselves'The elemental power of the Australian landscape here is what is drawing the girls out of their so very English cocoons Throughout the narrative this rough land calls out to us in a thousand tongues through the hissing of snakes the chirping of birds the scurrying of lizards the wind through the trees and through the silent and impressive presence of Hanging Rock It finally succeeds in drawing even the stolid Mrs Appleyard outAnd now at last after a lifetime of linoleum and asphalt and Axminster carpets the heavy flat footed woman trod the springing earth Born fifty seven years ago in a suburban wilderness of smoke grimed bricks she knew no of nature than a scarecrow rigid on a broomstick above a field of waving corn She who had lived so close to the little forest on the Bendigo Road had never felt the short wiry grass underfoot Never walked between the straight shaggy stems of the stingybark trees Never paused to savour the jubilant gustsof spring that carried the scent of wattle and eucalypt right into the front hall of the college Nor sniffed with foreboding the blast of the north wind laden in summer with the fine ash of mountain firesNature in all her raw and pristine glory nature come to extract her price from civilisation

  4. says:

    On a summer's day in 1900 the students at Appleyard College for Young Ladies decided to go on a picnic at Hanging Rock Not everyone returned to the college I was definitely not drinking the Kool Aid on this one I am perhaps in the minority here but I found this book to be B O R I N G The girls go missing early on and the story just dragged Were there metaphysical events going on? Did they get sucked into the rock? Was there a criminal element? What happened? Also what about the good characters being good looking and fit and the bad characters being overweight and ugly? It has happened before in literature but it is offensive to a degree Sad to see this was written by a woman Also did I say I was bored? The girls went missing early on and things just went on and on and on like the EverReady bunny I kept thinking it was going to get better Hoping it would be something like “The Ruins” but sadly it didn’t I don’t mind that the Author never told us what happened to the girls That is one thing that I liked But there seemed to be a lot of other things going on in the book that dulled down the storyI think it is safe to say that this was not the book for me It is very rare for me to give a rating lower than a 3 but I just had difficulty getting into this book I finished it because I wanted to complete a challenge but overall I just wasn't interested I know I am in the minority on this one most have given it much higher reviews but it was a struggle for meSee of my reviews at wwwopenbookpostcom

  5. says:

    The first review I wrote got eaten by the web so here is take twoThis was a brilliantly written piece of psychological horror by an Australian writer While reading this I kept thinking about The House of Leaves I got the same eerie feelings I had while reading that story The eeriness started to happen during the schoolgirls approach to the picnic grounds near the rockI was glad I got the chance to read this story I had been wanting a copy for years And as soon as I heard that Penguin re printed it in the States I rushed out and bought a copyIf I ever get a chance to visit Australia I would love to see the formation in personAlso try and read this book in one sitting

  6. says:

    I’ve written before in some of my reviews about how much I hate books where an author teases us with a mystery usually a disappearance or a murder but then never gives us a satisfying solution because “that’s not how REAL LIFE works” or some such nonsense God the fucking arrogance of this stance Yeah I know that most murders are never solved in real life and that reality doesn’t get tied up in neat little bows but you’re not doing anything revolutionary by drawing readers in with a mystery and then refusing to solve it That’s why we read FICTION you pretentious assAnyway this is all a long winded way to say that the main reason I put off reading Picnic at Hanging Rock for so long was because I was pretty sure it was going to be that kind of book and by the end I’d have uestions than answers In short – is Picnic at Hanging Rock a satisfying mystery or does it end with an open ended uestion? Yes and yes The story takes place at Miss Appleyard’s College for Young Ladies in Australia in the year 1900 The book begins on the day of the annual picnic at Hanging Rock a mountain near the school During the excursion three senior girls go off to explore by themselves and disappear The book follows the increasingly desperate efforts of the school headmistress to do damage control as the days extend into months and in the fine tradition of stories like this secrets and lies come to light in the wake of the tragedy Written as if it were a nonfiction recounting of true events the book includes excerpts of newspaper articles and interviews with witnesses discussing the disappearance and the ripple effect it had on the school and the community Joan Lindsay does something pretty extraordinary in this book where she hints at information rather than stating it outright and trusts in the reader to make connections and see the subtext in conversations and events Picnic at Hanging Rock will not answer all of your uestions but the story is told in such a way that by the end you no longer feel like you need to know every last thing That was my experience anyway and bear in mind that I’m the kind of person who usually demands thorough and satisfying conclusions in my fiction Maybe I’m less salty about the ambiguous ending than I’d normally be because the edition I read includes a discussion of the final chapter that Lindsay's editors cut from the book where we get an explanation for the disappearance And knowing what the author intended for the ending of her book I can say authoritatively that we did not need that last chapter and her editors were right to cut it Picnic at Hanging Rock managed to do something I didn’t think was possible it made me appreciate ambiguous storytelling and gave me an ending that was actually satisfying despite its open ending

  7. says:

    It is the atmosphere the pervasive sense of dread and the wonderful descriptions that made this book for me a special read The school the headmistress the students all with hidden undercurrents of eeriness What happened to those girls? An open ended ending up to the reader's interpretation Have never seen the movie but want to see it after reading the book Wonder how closely adapted the movie is to the book? Very well done and mysterious read

  8. says:

    Australian classic which I probably wouldn't have picked up other than I was short of an audio cd for the car The added bonus to these Abc Australia productions is the pan flute music that is borrowed from the movie version It is pretty music that adds to the flavour of the time of the year 1900 The narrator was outstanding Australian actress Jacueline Mackenzie portrayed the Aussie flavour perfectly her male voices were entertaining and realThe story of a group of girls never to be seen again for me lacked finality but that what the story was all about I noticed that just like The Harp in the South this was another short classicHistorical fiction and I just don't gel but I did like it enough

  9. says:

    'Well young ladies we are indeed fortunate in the weather for our picnic to Hanging Rock I have instructed Mademoiselle that as the day is likely to be warm you may remove your gloves after the drag has passed through Woodend You will partake of luncheon at the Picnic Grounds near the Rock Once again let me remind you that the Rock itself is extremely dangerous and you are therefore forbidden to engage in any tomboy foolishness in the matter of exploration even on the lower slopes It is however a geological marvel on which you will be reuired to write a brief essay on Monday morning I also wish to remind you that the vicinity is renowned for its venomous snakes an poisonous ants of various species' In 1900 a pleasant outing for a local girls' school turns tragic when three of the participants never return from the trip ' even the lowest and most accessible levels of the Rock are exceedingly treacherous especially for girls in long summer dresses ' This set up is great; what a terrific sense of dread and foreboding 'A knowledge of arithmetic don't help much in the Bush' I'm rubbing my hands together with glee thinking of how great it's going to be when the shit hits the fan and then fizzle The girls are missed by their friends a would be rescuer pines over the exuisite beauty of one of the missing girls and the school's owner frets about declining enrollment for the coming semester Of course this isn't America there's no talk of lawsuits but I expected of a fuss There are just too many characters with too many backstories which only served to dilute any possible drama or suspense The delicious anticipation of the trip to the Rock was much interesting than anything that happened later This was a damned good line though 'Nobody' said the old man 'can be held responsible for the pranks of destiny'

  10. says:

    Well I'll admit that I'm sitting here rather perplexed as to why this book is considered a classic The book began well it kept my attention and I was intrigued to learn what supposedly happened at this hanging rock As the book continued my yawns grew wider and longer and really I can definitely compare this book to a homemade Yorkshire pudding that failed to riseThere seemed to be many uestions asked in this story but very few answers were given The story kind of went off track and started exploring relationships with characters that I feel had no real role in the story especially not if one wants to find out what happened at hanging rockAs I dragged myself painfully to the end of this book I realised I didn't really care what any of the answers to the uestions were I was hoping to love this book but it was just a tedious disappointment