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Picnic At Hanging Rock Paperback – 2 Jul 1998

39 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (2 July 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099750619
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099750611
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 426,266 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


This deliciously horrific Australian thriller, set in 1900, could be seen as an anti-picnic cautionary tale. (Observer)

Written in a beautifully haunting style that drew me in. (Esther McKay Sun Herald (Australia))

A sinister tale...laced with touches of other-worldliness (Guardian)

Book Description

On St Valentines Day in 1900 a party of school girls set out for a picnic. some were never to return.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

79 of 83 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 28 Feb. 2001
Format: Paperback
Having seen Peter Weir's film before reading Joan Lindsay's novel it is difficult for me to review the book without referring to the film. The film leaves out some details from the novel but both convey the same sense of beauty, horror and loss, longing and haunting. We are told on the book's cover that the story is based around a St Valentine's day picnic in 1900, and the disappearance of some of the picnic party.
Picnic at Hanging Rock is Joan Lindsay's only work of fiction, although its many themes are firmly based on reality. The story covers the loss of youth, beauty and innocence; love and sexuality; discrimination, prejudice and class privilege; fear, passion and the breakdown of order; the English Empire in a foreign environment, the clash of alien cultures, and the end of an era; beliefs and life's purpose; life's myriad web and coincidences; destiny and fate; and Time itself, reflected in Miranda's favourite quote "Everything begins and ends at exactly the right time and place".
Joan Lindsay's descriptions of the Australian bush and wildlife are as evocative as Russell Boyd's cinematography. The style and language of her writing is deliberate to emulate turn-of-the 20th century writers.
The girls images were already imprinted on my mind when I read the book and the casting in the film seemed to me perfect, especially that of Anne Louise Lambert as Miranda and Karen Robson as Irma. Joan Lindsay described Mademoiselle Dianne de Poitiers, the French teacher and the girls' confidante, as having blond hair, yet the casting of the excellent Helen Morse was inspired.
Joan Lindsay describes Miranda as a Botticelli Angel from the Galleria Degli Uffizi in Florence, and Peter Weir specifically uses the image of the birth of Venus.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By F. S. L'hoir VINE VOICE on 24 Nov. 2009
Format: Paperback
I read somewhere that the editors advised Joan Lindsay to cut the last chapter in which she had solved her mystery of the fictional schoolgirls who vanish on St. Valentine's Day in 1900 Victoria, Australia at the brooding Hanging Rock. Whether this report is apocryphal or not, I do not know, and I am conflicted about the disturbing ending, or lack of it. On the one hand, it leaves the reader pondering possible solutions. On the other hand, it seems unsatisfactory, since one has come to care for the well-delineated characters of the girls--especially Miranda and Sara--and the young men--Michael and Albert, as well as the governess, Mademoiselle, whom we discover mid-book is the namesake of that historical figure of courtly love, Dianne de Poitiers.

Perhaps much of the disappointment comes from the fact that Miss Lindsay relates her tail in compelling prose that captivates the reader until the end, and then the end does not come.

One of the reasons I read the book was to clarify some of the omissions in the Criterion Collection DVD, which were present in the original screen version (which I loved), such as the fate of Miss McCraw, the Maths governess. I felt justified that this cut from the NTSC version was indeed in the book.

Despite the troubling ending, which leaves the reader with dozens of unanswered questions, the book is well worth reading. And even though one might find the beginning a bit slow, one will soon be mesmerised and find it difficult to put the book down. One can easily discern traces of of the subtle magic that Peter Weir captured so brilliantly in the movie's original screen version.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Reader on 6 Oct. 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"An elegantly written novel that deserves the status of a classic...the film is lyrical and beautiful, but don't think that simply because you've seen the film you will be wasting your time reading the book. The book is rich in detail and provides greater depth to the story. The producers of the film were blessed with such wonderful source material - and it's obvious they took considerable advantage of this. Joan Lindsay's writing is as beautiful and enigmatic as her heroine Miranda. A truly sublime reading experience. Rarely have a book and film complimented each other so well."
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 1 Oct. 2000
Format: Paperback
Picnic at Hanging Rock is the type of book that makes the reader completely lose track of time, in the race to discover the fate of the girls. Set in the early 1900's, the book is the chilling story of a group of girls and their teacher who mysteriously vanish during a St Valentines Day picnic. The book is apparently based upon real events which happened at Hanging Rock at the beginning of the 20th Century. I discovered the book after seeing the motion picture, and have since rad the book many times. It is very similar to The Blair Witch Project, in that there is no explanation as to what happened to the girls or the maths mistress. There are several subplots running through the novel, which add greatly to the depth and realism of the book. Especially fascinating is the subplot featuring Sarah, a 'charity' pupil at the school. The climax to Sarahs story within the book comes as a complete surprise, and will make you want to immediately reread the book in the search for clues! Definitely worth a read, especially for horror fans. A disturbing tale which will keep you guessing till the very end.
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