Yolanda Sfetsos's Reviews > Picnic at Hanging Rock

Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay
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it was amazing
bookshelves: classics, historical

Joan Lindsay's Picnic at Hanging Rock is an Australian classic I've wanted to read for ages. After watching the TV show last year and picking up three different editions of the book, I decided it was time to FINALLY read this beauty.

It's Valentine's Day, in the year 1900, when a group of girls attending the Appleyard College for Young Ladies go on an excursion to the nearby Hanging Rock. Hanging Rock is a rock formation found deep in the Victorian bush, and seems like the perfect spot to visit on this lovely summer day.

When four of the girls go for a walk and only one returns in hysterics, a teacher vanishes too. The mystery of what happened on that day becomes the only thing anyone can talk about.

And then another returns...

I'm SO glad I finally read this eerie little book.

Not only is the mystery at the core of the story super addictive and kept me glued to the pages, but the whole experience felt like walking through a surreal nightmare. Every word adds to the unsettling suspense, spreading a cloud of darkness that keeps expanding.

That's why I found the writing style perfect for this story. It's told in third-person omniscient POV, taking the reader from one character to another very quickly, as well as revealing past and present tidbits along the way. Telling the story in this way usually bugs me, but not this time. Dealing with the narrative in this way helped keep the intrigue going, as well as include the many characters featured in order to get the full scope of the story. It also made the setting and surroundings feel as strong and important as the characters.

Although the girls who disappeared were popular seniors, the actual plot revolves around what happens to everyone else--teachers, students, staff--at the boarding school they attended. It spans to include the last guy to see them that day, and how his life is affected. And even the policemen conducting the investigation.

Sarah's story is so sad. I felt bad for her because her life is affected in the worst way possible. There were so many things she didn't know, especially the people who actually cared about her and were willing to help. Instead, she gets stuck with the awful headmistress. The flower imagery surrounding this poor child was tragically beautiful.

The French teacher, Mademoiselle de Poitiers, was another character I really liked. I was totally invested in her journey and her part in everything was great.

There are so many things to love about this story, and one of my most favourite things was the gothic atmosphere that drips off every page. Not to mention how well the author captured the bush, the climate and how harsh Australia's landscape can be. I felt like I was there with the characters, every step of the way.

As for the ambiguous ending, it TOTALLY worked for me. Not just because it was a clever way to end the tale, but also because I already had my own theory and was hppy with what I read.

Oh, and after finishing the book I went back to the foreword, which was full of spoilery stuff. Plus I also found out about the original Chp 18, which explained what happened to the girls. I thought it was cool.

Either way, I enjoyed this a lot.
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Reading Progress

June 26, 2018 – Shelved
June 26, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
June 26, 2018 – Shelved as: classics
June 26, 2018 – Shelved as: historical
May 31, 2019 – Started Reading
May 31, 2019 –
26.0% "Finally reading this & really enjoying the writing style."
June 3, 2019 –
53.0% "This story is so unsettling & atmospheric."
June 4, 2019 – Finished Reading

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