Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay and Chapter 18 The Secret of Hanging Rock Chapter

Book Blurb ‘On St Valentine’s Day in 1900 a party of schoolgirls went on a picnic to Hanging Rock. Some were never to return …

I was determined to read this book for AWW2012 as I had such fond memories of reading this when I was much much younger. This story held an endless amount of fascination for me as a teenager, I was determined to discover how much was true and false. Thankfully realising that it was all a wonderfully manufactured story, which is now an Australian myth.

This book was published in 1967, but it feels so much older. The story has a wonderful gothic feel, the sense of mystery and foreboding is a constant current throughout. I enjoyed how intertwined all the characters of the story are, you realise that somehow they are all connected and have a part to play. From the young man who’s glimpse of the ‘Botticelli’ angel Miranda which leaves him obsessed in finding her at Hanging Rock, to the young orphaned girl and the speculation that she is related to one of the characters (I wont tell). Her story for me is the real tragedy of the book and always fascinated me.

As an aside Peter Weir’s adaption of the book to movie is an Australian Movie classic. The school location was filmed in Mintaro, South Australia at the spooky and magnificent Martindale Hall. My husband’s beautiful Aunt Viv was one of the school girls in the movie, our favourite family brush with the movie world.

I was lucky enough to also get the published last chapter ‘The Secret of Hanging Rock’ thanks to my amazing team of book seekers (Yay Mum!).

Book Blurb ‘Joan Lindsay’s best-selling novel Picnic at Hanging Rock is a subtle blend of mysterious and sinister events set in a period drawn with loving nostalgia. The final chapter of the novel was removed at the request of her publishers, creating a mystery to which thousands have begged to know the solution. Published now for the first time, the missing chapter reveals what did happen to the school girls who vanished from the Rock after a St Valentine’s Day picnic in 1900.’

I was so pleased to have the chance to read this last chapter, but wow! I can completely see why the publishers didn’t want it in. In my opinion it doesn’t add anything to the story, but I was still pleased to be able to read it. It seems to bear little relationship to the rest of the book and reads as something quite esoteric and supernatural rather than mystical, gothic and sinister. Apart from that aspect it really doesn’t give any satisfactory answers to what happened to the girls and their teacher. I had hope to be blown away by something fascinating … oh, well … I would highly recommend reading both the book and the final chapter, it is truly one of our national treasures.

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10 thoughts on “Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay and Chapter 18 The Secret of Hanging Rock Chapter

  1. What a fantastic brush with the movie world to have!
    I love the book and the film, and felt the same degree of deflated disatisfaction with the secret chapter!

    1. I’m about to sit the whole family down to watch the film, apart from being a Peter Weir classic and absolutley beautiful, it is a corker of a story. Then we are going to take the kids to tour Martindale Hall, it is always spookier after seeing it in the movie. Thanks for stopping by again, loving your visits 🙂

      1. Here are some photos I took of it on a glorious day in January: http://goo.gl/uKHrY Watch out for the sundial on the grounds: this was a real surprise to me. The best I could manage of the Latin inscription was “With time, we will grow old and be silenced. But until then, let us shun time and its constraints.” An amazing coincidence is that Joan Lindsay had an aversion to timekeeping and clocks, which underscored her unorthodox views on it. Her property in Victoria was Mulberry Hill, now managed by the National Trust, which has a sundial on it, but it broke many years ago and the dial plate was stolen thereafter. All that remains is the cracked pedestal. Somehow, I think Joan would have approved of the Martindale inscription.

  2. Lovely review! Chapter 18 was promoted as a ‘secret’ and often cited as the ‘missing chapter’, but in reality, it was simply edited out. Joan’s editor at the time, Sandra Forbes, stated in an interview that the author ‘wasn’t happy with it’, and so the decision to exclude it was a mutual one. Which is just as well, as Joan’s views on what might have happened in her story evolved into something more sophisticated, expressed in a 1974 interview for the Arts Australia Council. Joan’s views were ahead of her time and more aligned to some of the theories now being expressed in quantum physics.

    1. Thanks so much for your comments and I’m glad you enjoyed my review. I don’t have my head around the concepts that were incorporated into the final chapter, but understand what you are saying (actually understand little about quantum physics at all :-)). I read also that it has links to Dreamtime ‘like’ concepts.

      1. The association with dreamtime is something that others have promoted when reflecting on Aboriginal traditions; in any case it demonstrated that Joan was trying to articulate with words a complex concept beyond the touch-see reality. In retrospect, the fact that she agreed with her publisher to exclude Ch18, showed that she was a writer of great integrity, suggesting that she believed that it did not convey what she might have seen as the link to time. But in 1974 it seemed that she was much more certain.

  3. You should not believe that this ‘missing chapter’ was actually written by Lindsay. No material evidence exists to warrant that idea. No manuscript, no typoscript, no annotations, no diary entry, no letters by Lindsay, no notary act transferring the rights to her publisher, no ‘last will’ in which Lindsay says she wants the ‘missing chapter’ to be published – nothing of the kind.

    All we have is hearsay. Specially from her editor and/or publisher, who made quite some money of the ‘revelation’ of this ‘missing chapter’, which was conveniently published three years after Lindsay’s death, when she was not around to refute its authenticity.

    Lindsay herself was a firm and vocal advocate of her book being conceived and written as open-ended. She loathed the idea of her mystery to have some kind of practical ‘solution’. Such ‘solution’ directly undermines the literary and philosophical underpinning of this great Australian novel.

    It is high time some Australian philologist conducted some research into the matter and revealed it as the sham that it most likely is.

    1. Thanks for your feedback, that is very interesting and I can appreciate that this could quite be the case as the chapter was such a contrast to the rest of the book… Perhaps someone will research it and clear up the mystery of this strange final chapter!

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