Genre: Thriller, School
Narrative Style: Third person, chronological
Synopsis: It was Valentine’s day in 1900 and the girls from Appleyard College for Young Ladies are excited about the picnic at Hanging Rock. The weather was perfect for the annual day out. Unfortunately three girls and one teacher would not return from this trip, the repercussions of which effect the entire town.
I liked the style in which this story was told with almost perfect detachment from the events therein. While some of the events described involve hysteria, the prose is never less than level headed and was very easy to read.
The lead up to the disappearance of the girls is nicely handled and excitement builds slowly but steadily with subtle hints that things aren’t quite right, everyone’s watch stopping at the same time, for example. When it is realised that the girls are missing then panic ensues, panic which is heightened when one of the missing girls comes crashing out of the undergrowth at the bottom of Hanging Rock. At this point, I was anxious to find out what had happened and eager to read on.
However, the novel changes not long after this and becomes less of a mystery story and more of a study in human nature – watching the various character’s reactions to events rather than solving the mystery. This wasn’t badly done but wasn’t what I was expecting. There are still moments of excellence – the hysterical reaction of the school girls to the one girl they manage to find is extremely well described but ultimately, I found the change in direction disappointing.
I also found it difficult to differentiate between some of the teachers and girls. They didn’t stick in my mind and I was constantly checking who was who.
The ending of the novel was unexpected and returned a little more to the mystery style and I did find that enjoyable but overall, this was an uneven read.