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.