45. PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK, BY JOAN LINDSAY
Recommended by Holly, on Goodreads. I’m not sure what to say about it, it’s kind of a weird book. Still, it was an interesting read.
Synopsis: A group of girls from an all-girls school goes on a picnic on a rock formation on Australia. Three girls and one of the adult chaperones go missing. One of the girls is found, but she can shed no light on the destinies of the ones still missing.
Overall enjoyment: Well. You know when you hear a lot about some classic movie, and how it has something amazing in it, like a particular scene that is shocking or never seen before? And then you go and watch the movie, but that particular scene has been done so many times in other later movies that you’ve watched that it has lost most of its impact on you? It is, of course, no fault of the original movie, but you’re still incapable of fully enjoying it. That’s kinda how I felt about this book and its ambiguous ending. And it still kept me going to the last page. 3.5 stars.
Plot: It’s also a bit weird. At first you have the impression that she’s going to follow the investigation of the disappearance of the girls, but very soon she abandons that line. She focuses, instead, on the effect those disappearances have on the people involved. The shift from one focus to the other is a bit abrupt, but it enforces the idea that the book is a fictionalization of real facts, so it plays right into what the author was trying to do.
Characters: Not genius, but well done. It seems like she doesn’t really go deep enough into any particular character’s story to give them much depth; but she still supplies enough about their personalities to make them feel like real people.
World/setting: The disappearance happens on the Australian wilderness, and I was very gratified to see her mention snakes, ants and spiders :) She gives enough to situate the reader without making the text boring.
Writing style: A bit dated. Which is surprising, considering the book was written in 1967; it reads like it was written in the early 1900s. Maybe that was a stylistic choice, to match the time she was writing about. Personally, I’m not a great fan of that type of writing, but that’s really just me.
Political correctness: It’s not too problematic a book once you make the necessary indulgences for the time it was written and the time it was trying to portray. In spite of the lack of representation, she tries very hard not to stereotype people, and it not only makes for a more interesting story but also makes it easier to believe it was based on facts.
Up next: The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell