Review - Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay

This book went places I wasn’t necessarily expecting.

It all starts out nicely enough - a group of school girls and their teachers go on a Valentine’s Day picnic luncheon at Hanging Rock. The young ladies are dressed in their white frocks and gloves, it is 1900 after all. I knew that the story was a mystery, and so I was not surprised when several of the students, and one teacher, were discovered missing when the party was packing up to leave.

What I was not expecting was that this novel also has an element of horror/thriller. And the end is… very weird. I’m not sure that I can talk much about it without ruining the experience!

Picnic at Hanging Rock is deftly written. The characters are sketched out quickly, but so well that they don’t feel at all two dimensional. The settings, both the school and the Australian bush are vivid, especially the contrasts between them. The bush feels like a character all of its own, with history and agency. I am now quite keen to watch the screen adaptation, because I am so curious to see how the feel of this story has been translated.

Picnic at Hanging Rock was featured in the February 2019 Classic parcel from the NovelTea Book Club. If you’d like to learn more, or sign up to receive one of our monthly book & tea subscription parcels, please feel free to check out the rest of our website.