Picnic at Hanging Rock -Joan Lindsay

classics, mystery


To the next person who reads this book:

Picnic at Hanging Rock, set in Bendigo, Victoria, is a mysterious, haunting story that has many moments that are chilling.

Four girls from a prestigious English boarding school in the Australian bush in the 1900’s go missing from a school picnic at Hanging Rock.

Hanging Rock is vividly described – yet perhaps better is the detail Lindsay doesn’t provide. The uncertainty and mystery around the rock makes it seem the same in nature as some of the deepest, most unfathomable places in the ocean – unexplored.

We never gain any explanation as to what becomes of Miranda, with ‘corn starch’ hair, who is lovely as a white swan (the white swan becomes a symbol for her ghost, or memory) or Miranda Quade, bookish and factual. Irma Leopold, an heiress, is found, but everyone who has contact with the rock seem strangely to be unable to recall certain details or whole events that unfold on or around it.

This story depicts how the disappearance of the girls at Hanging Rock devastates the many lives that were touched by this single event. Lindsay trails the characters linked to that day, and we see, that the disaster of the rock reaches much further than the geographical space the rock inhabits itself. The disappearance ripples forth with invisible ways of horror into the community.

The charming depictions of the Australian bush, the rock, the boarding house and the story’s characters  make for a compelling read, and creates images that return to the readers mind long after the story is finished.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★





Like Being Killed – Ellen Miller


To the next person who reads this book:

Like Being Killed explores the life and thoughts of a junky.

This novel disturbs in a way that its content is sometimes repulsive – and therefore uncomfortable – to read, but in the kind of repulsive way that doesn’t allow you to stop reading.

I read this after someone mentioned it in connection with another title I enjoyed: The Secret History, by Donna Tartt. The two novels were nothing alike – though perhaps they share a similar attention to detail and description.

Both worlds seem real in some way; both are vividly painted.

In some ways, I found this story superficial. At its core, it seemed flawed. The relationship between the two women seemed at first to be lacking some depth. But this fact is almost redeemed by what the relationship develops into – the story and its end both provided a satisfying depth I didn’t think Like Being Killed had.

But from the outset, it was interesting, almost engrossing – the detail was, as I’ve already mentioned, disturbing. Shit seems to be a major theme throughout – which seemed also to parallel the themes of life and death, and how protagonist Ilyana Meyerovitch sees herself and junkies as, in society.

One of the novels key messages is that the life we live is a choice we make.

On the surface, this novel provides some insight into how low life can get living with a heroin addiction.

What I enjoyed about this novel was its structure – the time frame is not chronological, and jumps between a kind of before and after.

It describes a unique drug culture, too, which adds to the believability of the world the novel operates in.

Sometimes I found protagonist Ilyana to be dislikeable – too involved in her own problems to empathise with those around her – and this was one of her flaws, as a person, and a part of her character arc.

Ilyana’s Jewish heritage is described with wonderful detail, and so are her junky friends.

Read this if you want to journey into a world where the characters and places are described with a kind of detail that makes them multidimensional, and real.

Like Being Killed is filled with allusions – and provokes some thought, too.

★ ★ ★