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Old 03-13-2019, 08:43 PM   #16
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Ditto. I suspect the book would have been long forgotten by now had it been published with its final chapter (I've only read summaries too). Not only was it a good marketing decision, but I think it also matched the mood of the story.
Thanks for sharing the local information, gmw. It helps to understand how this book was received.

Yes, it seems like a good marketing decision considering the sustained myth it generated that it was real and the tourism and interest in the location and enough popularity for movie and TV adaptations.
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Old 03-13-2019, 08:44 PM   #17
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I have not read the claimed discarded final chapter but if the several summaries of it that I have seen are fair then for me I am glad it was discarded. It seems that it goes into strange fantastical flights of fancy of a kind outside of earthly experience, which is contrary to the reality based theme of the rest of the novel.
Interesting. I would not have expected the last chapter to take a fantastical direction. Perhaps it’s best to leave it how it ends then.
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Old 03-13-2019, 09:00 PM   #18
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You may find interest in this page: Secrets of Hanging Rock. Some images from the location and from the movie, and I love the opening paragraphs:

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FIFTY years ago this week a writer called Joan Lindsay published a mystery book about a group of schoolgirls who vanished on St Valentines Day 1900.

The place where the girls disappeared was one of Australia’s most eerie locations, Hanging Rock.

Often shrouded in mist, it’s also shrouded in mystery with baffling and unexplained incidents happening close to the rock.
Way to perpetuate the myth!
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Old 03-13-2019, 09:50 PM   #19
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What a great article! Thank you! I like how she even says her watch would stop in the area, just like in the book.

I watched the movie trailer too. It does capture the eerie, spooky effect.
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Old 03-13-2019, 10:10 PM   #20
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I was sure I had read this book as a Child but after reading it now I doubt this. I have now filled in a gap which should have been filled long ago.

I really enjoyed the Book. I agree that had it been published with the final chapter it may well not have been the success it turned out to be. Supernatural or Science Fiction aspects unfortunately tend to turn off a lot of readers, and I doubt this book would be an exception. Many theories have been advanced, and the proposed last chapter published, but it is difficult to see a credible explanation for the disappearance of the girls which does not involve some element of one or the other. The logical explanation of the girls having been lost in a cave or crevice or even having been kidnapped or murdered leaves unexplained the sudden onset of sleep and the trance like state in which they then proceeded up the rock, apparently oblivious to the calls of their younger schoolmate. There are also other aspects which strain credibility in the case of a more mundane explanation.

The book does involve sometimes exquisite descriptions of the Australian bush and its creatures, and also captures the heat and languor of an Australian bush summer. One interesting aspect which struck me but may elude non-Australians is the relationship between the various social "classes". Whilst I doubt there is such a thing as a truly classless society Australia developed into one of the most egalitarian societies on the face of the earth. It was not intended to be that way. Certainly I think the English envisaged a similar society to their own. But various events in Australian history meant this was not to be. The Eureka stockade and the Shearer's strike come to mind as notable examples. Labour unions played a large role. I found the relationships between the wealthy and those working for them to be very interesting, and to embody aspects of both what had already happened and what was to come. I doubt, for instance, that the friendship between Mike and Albert is something that would ever have existed in England at the time.

Another facet which struck me is the clinging to old English habits and traditions totally unsuited to Australia. This is a country where those in the first fleet almost starved in the midst of plenty waiting for supplies from England. Where much of the early architecture and arguably even some much more recent architecture is more suitable for a cold climate. The dress of the girls in the book may have been tolerable in England, but would have been truly horrific in the midst of an Australian summer.
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Old 03-16-2019, 10:45 PM   #21
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Thanks for the insights, darryl. I enjoyed the descriptions of nature. They seemed very realistic. I thought that the writing of the creatures alive in the bush added to the creepiness of the atmosphere and by contrast enhanced the stillness and oppressiveness of the heat. It still makes me shiver to think of the scene of the lizards and bugs crawling over the girls as they slept in the hot afternooon sun. I also thought it was an interesting timeline to set the story between Valentine’s Day and the Easter holiday, which included a transition from summer to autumn. The change in weather added to the post-disappearance mood at the college.

I thought the relationship between Mike and Albert was odd, and I think it was because of my misperceptions about class being similar to England, although it makes sense that they would have been more egalitarian. Thanks for the information on Australian society. I will have to look up the historical examples to learn more.

Now that I’ve finished the book I agree that it was a good idea by the publishers to leave off the last chapter, and I don’t know that I will read the missing ending. I was not expecting where the ending went however with the additional deaths. Since the author in the beginning raised doubts about whether it was fact or fiction, I liked how it ended with the police statements and a newspaper article which would put the “fact” more forward in your mind.

Lastly I liked AnotherCat’s statement, “The story did come across to me as a whodunit without a whodidit.” So, my overall takeaway is that the story was both satisfying and unsatisfying yet it was a fun read. I’m glad to have finally gotten to it.

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Old 03-19-2019, 12:27 AM   #22
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Thanks for your comments Bookworm_Girl. I also liked AnotherCat's statement. Normally I would be left very frustrated by the lack of a resolution, which would perhaps even have spoiled the whole book for me. But not in this case. And I'm not exactly sure why. Perhaps it is because the book wasn't really your typical whodidit. Whilst the disappearances were central to the plot, perhaps they were really more the background for the real story, which was about the people and their reaction to the disappearances and the place and the heat and the eerie atmosphere of the rock. If I had to describe what the book was about I would probably describe it more as being about the effects on the community of the disappearances. The beginning of Chapter Ten sticks in my mind in this regard:

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The reader taking a bird’s eye view of events since the picnic will have noted how various individuals on its outer circumference have somehow become involved in the spreading pattern: Mrs Valange, Reg Lumley, Monsieur Louis Montpelier, Minnie and Tom – all of whose lives have already been disrupted, sometimes violently. So too have the lives of innumerable lesser fry – spiders, mice, beetles – whose scuttlings, burrowings and terrified retreats are comparable, if on a smaller scale. At Appleyard College, out of a clear sky, from the moment the first rays of light had fired the dahlias on the morning of Saint Valentine’s Day, and the boarders, waking early, had begun the innocent interchange of cards and favours, the pattern had begun to form. Until now, on the evening of Friday the thirteenth of March, it was still spreading; still fanning out in depth and intensity, still incomplete. On the lower levels of Mount Macedon it continued to spread, though in gayer colours, to the upper slopes, where the inhabitants of Lake View, unaware of their allotted places in the general scheme of joy and sorrow, light and shade, went about their personal affairs as usual, unconsciously weaving and interweaving the individual threads of their private lives into the complex tapestry of the whole.
So perhaps a resolution of the disappearance of the girls was not really necessary. If this is the explanation then Joan Lindsay has inadvertently achieved a rare and difficult feat of writing.
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Old 03-20-2019, 01:06 AM   #23
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Great passage! I really like that perspective, darryl. So basically the ripple effect on the community becomes the central focus rather than solving the mystery of what happened. And, because the development of those characters was entertaining and captured our attention, we feel more satisfied.
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Old 03-27-2019, 03:14 PM   #24
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I finished the book and really loved it. It’s one of my favourite lit club selections, though I had a feeling beforehand it might be since I love the film so much as well. It’s not so similar in style but it does bring to mind Tirra Lirra by the River as another Australian lit club selection that I also really loved; I also really liked The Secret River, and Eucalyptus has a unique quality to it. I wasn’t quite as taken with Remembering Babylon but still with two of my favourite club selections coming from Oz, for me we’ve had a great track record on our Aussie selections. I have more to say about Picnic but I want to take a little time to digest it and read over all the comments now having read the entire selection.
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Old 03-27-2019, 08:00 PM   #25
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I’m really pleased with the exposure to Australian literature through the book club! So many enjoyable books that I would not have been exposed to otherwise.
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Old 03-28-2019, 09:52 AM   #26
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I have more to say about Picnic but I want to take a little time to digest it and read over all the comments now having read the entire selection.
I look forward to reading your comments on Picnic.
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Old 04-22-2019, 09:28 PM   #27
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...but it does bring to mind Tirra Lirra by the River as another Australian lit club selection that I also really loved; I also really liked The Secret River...
The Secret River and Tirra Lirra have both been somewhere down in the less visible parts of my to-read list ( I enjoy Australian novels). Your post reminded me of them and so I have now read The Secret River which I enjoyed very much (and recollections of Marcus Clarke's For the Term of His Natural Life kept coming to mind).

Tirra Lirra is loaded ready to go sometime soon too. It has been preceded by my rereading, after many years, John O'Grady's They're a Weird Mob. Having been a frequent traveler to Australia I know that much of the comedy in it is now in the past, but it was still an enjoyable and pleasant interlude type read.

Thanks for the reminder .
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