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.