This week I’m reading: Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay

Weighing in at a slim less-than-two-hundred-pages, I thought I’d devour this book in a couple of days; how wrong I was.

Instead of a quick read, this was a slow-burner for me. Not because I was particularly savouring the writing, but more because the story seemed to plod along without leaving me particularly hanging on for more…

Published in 1967, this is considered to be something of a classic. Set in Australia in 1900, it tells the story of the disappearance of a few girls from Appleyard College for Young Ladies, during a picnic at Hanging Rock.

Unusually for a novel, the climax of the action (i.e. the girls’ disappearance) happens early on; the remainder of the book details the fallout from that fateful picnic, and how it affects the community of characters.

For me, this wasn’t quite the page-turner that I was expecting (I suppose I thought this was going to be a thriller). The book gets more chilling, however, as it progresses, with vivid descriptions of nature; there is something sinister about the ways the trees, the flowers, the animals and the weather are described, that set a intense backdrop for the action, almost overpowering the landscape, threatening to take over the characters at any given moment.

The tension comes from the what happens after the girls disappear; the book gets darker, creepier and more sinister towards the end.

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