Picnic at Hanging Rock
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Picnic at Hanging Rock

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  3,099 ratings  ·  272 reviews
It was a cloudless summer day in the year nineteen hundred.





Everyone at Appleyard College for Young Ladies agreed it was just right for a picnic at Hanging Rock. After lunch, a group of three of the girls climbed into the blaze of the afternoon sun, pressing on through the scrub into the shadows of Hanging Rock. Further, higher, till at last they disappeared.


They never retu...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published July 2nd 1998 by Vintage (first published January 1st 1967)
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The Book Thief by Markus ZusakCloudstreet by Tim WintonThe Thorn Birds by Colleen McCulloughTomorrow, When the War Began by John MarsdenA Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute
Best Modern Australian Literature
10th out of 276 books — 358 voters
The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCulloughTomorrow, When the War Began by John MarsdenCloudstreet by Tim WintonA Town Like Alice by Nevil ShutePicnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay
Best Books Set in Australia
5th out of 450 books — 234 voters


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Community Reviews

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mark monday
ah! and there you are, my perfect little novel! it has been some time since last we've embraced. come, let us reacquaint 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 ways...


1. 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...more
Diane S.
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.
Eleanor
This is my second re-read of this book and I admit I loved it even more than the first time. There's just something so magnetic and resonating that I think every subsequent foray into it will further stamp it into my mind that this is an Australian classic.

I feel the circumstances of the story - about a group of boarding girls and their governesses going on a picnic at the Hanging Rock and not all of them returning - is pretty much stamped into the Australian psyche, so I won't elaborate. What...more
Stuart
It is very rare that you can say a book is "exquisite" but there is really no other words for this little gem by Joan Lindsay. Short and sweet, eerie and elegant all at once, this book is part romance, part comedy of manners, part horror story. Three schoolgirls and their teacher go missing during a picnic and the impact of the mystery reverberates throughout the small rural community they live in, negatively and positively changing the lives of a variety of characters from different social and...more
Belle

3.5 stars.

Picnic at Hanging Rock is an iconic Australian story. The disappearance of three girls and one woman from a “civilised” picnic into the mysterious Hanging Rock plays on the worst fears of the landscape that are ingrained in the Australian psyche, which is why I think it has become such a classic. The tension between the European settlers and the harsh Australian bush depicted in the story is central to our cultural heritage. It’s an important story, so it makes me cringe to admit that...more
_inbetween_
Surprisingly superficial. Instead of "a sense of evil" and "inexplicable terror", Lindsay has all her bad characters be ugly (ie. big or fat) and all her pretty characters be good (ie. lovely, beautiful, elegant, slim). Not a mention goes by without Miranda's shining hair, Irma's lovely curls and stunning face or Madame's slim figure. I was hoping for irony, but Lindsay seriously stipulates that Irma's loving nature makes her deride unattractive(ly dressed) people, and it's completely okay that...more
Nancy Oakes
I saw this movie on IFC some time back & was sucked into the screen completely. When I realized there was a book, I bought a copy from a store called Aussie Books so that I could have a nice clean copy. I started this book one night and stayed up through the wee hours of the morning to finish it. It was most excellent! Definitely recommended but with the caution that if you don't like things left hanging, you're not going to enjoy this book. Me, I'm a firm believer that there are (even in th...more
Maggie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mickey
Ok, what to say about this book?
I should probably just mention quickly that it's actually 2.5 stars out of 5.

The Plot:
In 1900, a class of young women from an exclusive private boarding school- Appleyard's College- go on an excursion to Hanging Rock which is deep in the Australian bush. The excursion ends horribly when three girls and a teacher mysteriously vanish. Only one girl returns having lost any memory of what happened...

My thoughts:

Some words were hard to read and understand.
The College g...more
Cheyenne Blue
My partner used to live near Hanging Rock. He came to Australia from Ireland as a teenager, and was immediately struck by the beauty and strangeness of the Australian Bush. He fell in love with it then, a love that never went away. He lived in Mt Macedon, a small community very close to Hanging Rock. He got his motorbike licence from the local policeman at Woodend ("Ride around the block and come back and tell me how you went." "Did you fall off? No? Good, then here's your licence.") and he live...more
Sean Kennedy
One of my favourite books.

Four girls and one of their governesses climb Hanging Rock on St. Valentine's day. One returns immediately, scared out of her mind and with no memory of why she is in such a state. Another is found later, also with no memory of what happened to her during her time on the Rock. The other two girls and their teacher are never seen again.

One of Australia's most enduring, and fictional despite it being so ingrained our cultural memory it often is mistaken for being real, m...more
Brenda
On the 14th of February, 1900, St Valentine’s Day, a group of young ladies, all students of Appleyard College in Victoria, not far from Bendigo, went on a picnic with two governesses and the driver of their cart. The picnic was to Hanging Rock, at the base of Mount Macedon, a dangerous place which they had been warned about; they were not to venture beyond the creek at the bottom of the Rock.

After a leisurely lunch and doze in the sunshine, three senior students, accompanied by a younger studen...more
Daniel G.
I read this because it was one of the choices on the First Tuesday Book Club's "50 Australian Books You Must Read Before You Die". Even though I saw the movie when I was a boy, and later got to know one of the actors from the film, the book had never appealed to me and even though I plan to read anything on the Book Club list, I wasn't looking forward to this one.

It tells the tale of three schoolgirls and their mistress who go missing on a picnic at the haunting Hanging Rock. Only one girl retur...more
Ruby  Tombstone [Uncensored or Else]
I had a weird little moment a couple of weeks ago. I was on the ferry from Townsville, heading towards Magnetic Island for the first time. When the boat picked up speed, there was a strange high-pitched whistling of wind through a metal fitting. The whistling and the wind whipping our faces made it impossible for any of the passengers to talk, so we were silent. Looking around at the sparse, rocky piece of coast ahead, distant islands blobbing the horizon, I was suddenly acutely aware of how far...more
Andrew Schirmer
Forget about literature in translation, why do Americans neglect the Australians? Similarities abound: geographical likeness (and isolation), a painful history regarding the treatment of its indigenous peoples, complicated questions of identity. One could go on! I had to order this from the UK, of all places.

Now to this perfect little novel. It is a master class in measured writing. The plot is ever so simple, with the major event happening near the beginning, the rest is all fallout. Lindsay g...more
Oscar
‘Picnic en Hanging Rock’, de la australiana Joan Lindsay, publicada a finales de los sesenta, se ha convertido en una obra de culto. En ella, la escritora nos presenta una peculiar novela de misterio, aunque no se rige estrictamente por los parámetros al uso de dicho género, una novela que atrapa al lector desde su principio. Mediante una inteligente estructura y dosificación de la intriga, la historia nos presenta la extraña desaparición de tres alumnas y una profesora, pertenecientes al presti...more
Kerstin
3.5 Stars

I finally got my hands on a copy of "Picnic at Hanging Rock", which I meant to read for the longest time. I went in with rather high expectations...and I'm not quite sure if they were met. I was ready for an eerie and creepy atmosphere throughout the book, surrounding the disappearance of the three girls and their teacher. A spooky horror/mystery story. Not sure why I expected all that, probably all the tidbits I heard about the book and the movie (which I haven't seen yet).
Instead thi...more
Donovan
As I grew up with Hanging Rock pretty much in my backyard, it's not surprising that I read this novel. I later saw the authorised theatrical production that explains what happened to the girls.
What I like most about the story is how accurately it portrays the life and times of 1900 Victoria (Australia) and the school system. The setting is accurate with many of the features described still there today. It is a thrilling read and will have you reading in to the early hours before you can put it...more
Rosemary
I thought I knew the plot of this - three girls and a teacher disappear during a picnic at Hanging Rock in Victoria, Australia; one is found later with no memory of what happened; enigmatic ending - but in fact that's only half the story. There is a lot of drama that happens to the other characters after this event.

It's one of those terrible, doom-laden stories that you read with the same kind of fascination as watching a train crash, wondering how an author can bear to inflict such fates on hi...more
Debbie Johansson
This is one of my favourite books; I've always loved the film and the mystery. The reader gets a wonderful sense of that period in history; including that of the differences in the class system. I enjoy Joan Lindsay's descriptions and her use of witness statements and newspaper articles as a way of telling the story.

The girls disappearance causes a large domino effect, altering people's lives and displaying their true natures. The college girls are more horrible to each other in the book than in...more
Erik Kubik
Mystical, grisly story without a shred or outright declaration of murder or supernatural. The film adaptation was quite complimentary of the original story, but Ms. Lindsay's beautiful prose accentuates the brooding feeling of uneasiness as the fates of the students, the headmaster, and the school are intertwined in the horrible events which occurred on the Rock on St. Valentine's Day. This book has been an inspiration to my own writing.
Belinda
For someone who has actually HAD a picnic at Hanging Rock,this book is incrediby creepy. I think it would be incredibly creepy anyway... but even more so when you've been to the place.
I love the whole old time Random Capital Letters. It reminds me of my old books, how they will have a random Capital every so often. Who capitalises Australian Bush? The Australian part, obviously yes, but bush? It makes me happy!
I dont think this book would be as good for someone who isnt A) Australian or B) Victo...more
Deborah Biancotti
Sooooooooo.

I spent most of this book thinking it was terribly over-hyped. It's a nasty, brutal book about a nasty, brutal landscape and the uneasy fit of a class of educated but unprepared people. The discord of the harsh black background of the Hanging Rock against the white of pantaloon and crinoline is uncomfortable and at times, even frightening. But in the end - or rather, in the end of the book I read, without the additional and much maligned 'final chapter' - the real horror is not the l...more
Rhiannon
When I saw this book sitting on a table in a bookshop I was immediately drawn to it. The cover picture was intriguing and the title was suggestive of adventure and things going wrong. When I read the blurb on the back cover I thought, 'yes! This sounds exciting, the kind of book that will keep me on tenterhooks and send shivers down my spine.' as I started reading the opening pages I was charmed by the prose, the attention to detail and the characterisation. This is an author who manages to capt...more
Delilah
Feeling guilty about not reading enough Australia or female authors, I picked up Picnic at Hanging Rock, by Joan Lindsay. My only knowledge of this book is the shrill screaming of “Miranda!” from poor renditions and drama eisteddfods.

I didn’t like this book. The descriptions of the landscape didn’t arouse any sense of pride in my country. There we many unnecessary details of characters that I didn’t need to know. The plot was strong to begin with but then had unnecessary twists and turns added i...more
Jay
This book can be reviewed from two angles.

It can be reviewed as a mystery novel and the investigation that went into trying to find the girls. The second way is that it can be viewed as the events that occur after someone's (or multiple someones) disappearance. Rather, Picnic at Hanging Rock is a book about both sides, with, in my opinion, an emphasis on the latter. Granted the first third of the novel is focused on finding the girls and retracing their steps, and the last chapter (in this copy-...more
Laura
Sep 18, 2010 Laura rated it 3 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Bettie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ih8booksmischa
Being a fan of the movie, it was with great delight I came across the actual book for a very good price and certainly couldn't pass it up. Maybe you'd have to be Australian to appreciate the whole back story surrounding the thing, this site gives a brief overview to the whole thing - http://www.castleofspirits.com/picnic... , and I would suggest, well I guess that is what I'm doing, having a look at this, and perhaps the truth has been covered up due to the discovery of some heinous crime, a la...more
Laura Morrigan
It was wonderful to finally read this book and realise it had all the delightful mystery of the movie I so loved. I grew up with the movie, and read the movie script multiple times. Of course, if you know me, it goes without saying how much I adored the costumes, and that I plan to eventually get around to making them!

This is a story that drove the Australian public crazy for years wondering is it true? Is it at least based on true events? I know the mystery rather haunted me as a child. I remem...more
Barbarac
This book was interesting, I see it was super famous at some point, but I had never heard about it or the movie, My mom sent it to me...in Spanish. If I had read it in English I would have given it 1/2 star more. Translations lose a lot.
Now, while the actual mystery did capture me and I wanted to find out what would happen, at times it was extremely boring. Ok, so I get the author wanted to really talk about Australia, and given that I have not been there, I forgive her the excessive description...more
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Joan Lindsay, Lady Lindsay was an Australian author, best known for her "ambiguous and intriguing" novel Picnic at Hanging Rock.
More about Joan Lindsay...
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“Everything begins and ends at exactly the right time and place.” 11 likes
“Good morning girls, boomed the gracious plummy voice imported from Kensington.” 2 likes
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