Tuesday, February 28, 2012
An Ode to Picnic At Hanging Rock
This is is. I've reached Blog 100 and to celebrate, I'm talking about one of my favourite books of all time
Picnic at Hanging Rock. The title alone evokes a sense of awe in me. A book, written in the seventies and made into a movie around the same time, still has the power to shock me at its nature.
I was in my early teens when my mother introduced me to the book, a battered second hand copy that she’d found in a Salvation Army store. I read it within a day, caught up in the mystery of the missing schoolgirls in rural Victoria. It was a story that had an ending, but not a conclusion, something that I would carry into my own writings later on in life. It has in fact, become a bigger influence on my writing than I first realised.
My own style is over-descriptive, pulling my readers into the worlds of my characters, and I prefer to write stories where the conclusion is only one of many possibilities, leaving the reader wondering what’s going on.
Back when Joan Lindsay first wrote the book, there was a final chapter that explained what had happened to the missing girls, along with why Irma was left behind. On her publisher’s advice, she left that chapter out of the final draft of the book, that would them go on to become a best-seller, loved by many.
That final chapter was later released in novella form, titled “The Secret of Hanging Rock”, a book that is impossible to find, even with the internet at our fingertips.
I’ve read it once, I was lucky enough to find it at my local library and I read it before it became lost in the library system never to be found again… Little bit spooky, huh? I have to admit, I wasn’t one-hundred percent happy with the conclusion, though it did give me an answer to those niggling questions I had. And because it was written by Lindsay, it couldn’t be disputed as false later on. I won’t discuss here what happened in the missing chapter, leaving it to the reader’s imagination seems better.
What might have happened if the book, in its entirety had been published? Would there have been a movie made out of it? If the movie had been made, would it have been the success it was? Would it still evoke feelings of awe, unease and wonder at the potential fates of the characters.