Picnic at Hanging Rock novel

This part will examine each chapter of the book, noting the major events and, at times, I'll add a comment in on what happened.

Chapter 1

The girls exchange Valentine Day cards
Miss Appleyard doens't get any cards. (No surprise there.)
Picnic scheduled for Valentine's Day, 1900
How Mrs. Appleyard bought the college for a cash discount.
Miranda, 17, a senior, gets lots of cards.
Edith gets 11 cards.
Irma is 17.
Mrs. McCraw, 45, a math teacher.
Madam Poitiers covers dance and French.
Sara is 13 and has a major crush on Miranda.
Sara writes a poem to Miranda, is punished
Mrs. Appleyard warns students about poisonous snakes and ants at the Hanging Rock area.
The carriage goes through a town, takes a short rest.
They get their first view of Hanging Rock.

Chapter 2

They have their picnic.
Some people are see nearby. (Michael and his group.)
Some girls go to sleep.
The coach driver notes his watch stopped at noon.
Miss Mc Craw's watch also stopped at noon.
(That relates to the subject of time which is important to Joan Lindsay)
Miranda, Irma and Marion plan to explore a little.
Edith joins them.
There are around twenty girls at the picnic.
Albert (Michael's friend) whistles at the girls.
Michael says he shouldn't have done that.

Chapter 3

The girls walk in single file.
Edith complains a lot. Really, a whole lot.
Irma wants to support charities when she gets older. (She's will be ultra-rich.)
The girls know they are supposed to get back soon.
They get to a circular rock platform and can see the people below.
Sara has a major crush on Miranda.
The girls take off their stockings and shoes. (This is very strange considering there are supposed to be poisonous snakes and ants.)
They hear a drum-like sound.
All four girls fall asleep.
Edith says she feels awful.
Miranda and the others move away.
Edith yells fo them to come back. She screams and runs down towards the plain.

Chapter 4

Mrs. Appleyard and her late husband are discussed.
Sara says she just can't learn the poem.
She's left in the room alone and goes to bed.
The group doesn't get back to late.
Mrs. Appleyard is told what has happened.
(The part of the book from the start to the disappearance and return of the survivors constitutes only about a quarter of the book.)

Chapter 5

Mrs. Appleyard tries to cover up what has happened.
The police investigate.
Edith is taken to the rock.
She talks of seeing a 'red cloud.' (One interpretation: the red cloud consisted of dust particles coming up out of the grand when the three girls fell into a hole or it could be from a landslide.)
She says she saw Mrs. Mc Craw but she didn't have a skirt on (a very major breech of decorum.)

Chapter 6

Mike at his aunt's garden party.
Mike and Albert are friends.
Bloodhounds had been used in the search.

Chapter 7

Albert and Mike go to search.
The Boer War is going on.
Albert leaves and Mike stays.
Mike hears some kind of murmuring.

Chapter 8

Albert dreams of Michael calling for help.
He goes to look for him on the Rock.
He finds an injured Michael and gets a doctor to help.
This is 8 days after the picnic.
Michael's notebook says he found something.
Albert, the police and a cook go looking.
They find Irma.
She has a bloodstained dress.
There are no signs of a struggle or of rape.
She is lacking her corset.
She is suffering from shock and exposure.
She has minor injuries although her fingernails are broken.
(This could indicate she tried to crawl up out of a hole which would fit with the 'red cloud' theory.)
The doctor notes she should have been dead days before. (8 days without food or water.)
He's concerned about what her mental state will be.
Michael sees a swan at the end of his bed. (The swan comes up several times in the story.)
He tells Albert what has happened.

Chapter 9

Mrs. Appleyard tries to deal with the growing problems.
Students start to be pulled out of school by their parents.
The French governess says she will be getting married and leave the school.
Sara's fees have not been paid.
Tom, the carriage driver, is planning to leave.
Mrs. Appleyard and the art teacher argue.
The art teacher is going to quit.

Chapter 10

Irma is suffering from amnesia.
She's interviewed by the police but still remembers nothing.
Gossip is spreading about what happened.
Mike's parents are trying to get him interested in a girl.
That doesn't work.
Mike thinks he sees Miranda who turns into a swan. (The second mention of swan.)
Mike meets Irma and they become friends.
Irma wants to meet Albert but he refuses.
They meet briefly by accident.
Mike and Irma meet a number of times.
Another mention of a swan.

Chapter 11

Irma is to have lunch with Michael.
Mike doesn't turn up.
Irma is given a letter from him.
Major thunderstorm.
Mike says goodbye.
Sara dreams of Miranda.

Chapter 12

Irma writes a letter to a former teacher.
Will visit to give her a wedding present.
It's possible that Scotland Yard might become involved.
This upsets Mrs. Appleyard.
Mrs. Appleyard talks to Irma, is very nasty to her.
Irma, in turns, gets angry with Mrs. Appleyard.
Irma visits the gym class but the other girls seem to turn on her.
They think she knows what actually happened.
Edith is one of the main complainers.
Irma leaves.
The French teacher (Dianne) argues with Dora Lumley.

Chapter 13

Sara is in her room.
Edith complains (not surprisingly), saying she has neuralgia.
Mrs. Appleyard works on the ledger.
The school will be losing maybe half of their pupils the next term.
Edith will be pulled out.
Miss Lumley's brother shows up and Mrs. Appleyard is nasty to him.
Dora leaves.
Rosemund plans to leave.
Sara is very upset.

Chapter 14

A hotel fire kills Lumley and her brother.
Michael is considering going north.
Albert dreams of his sister.
Irma sends Albert money for his role in finding her.
She makes an offer for Albert to work for her family.
Albert writes a thank you letter.
Albert plans to quit his job and go north with Michael.
He gives his job to Tom who will no longer be working for the school.

Chapter 15

Mrs. Appleyard says she expects Sara's guardian to show up that evening.
Dianne talks to Mrs. Appleyard about Sara.
Mrs. Appleyard claims Sara has already left.
She says Sara was a trouble-maker.
Diana and a maid check Sara's room and find almost nothing missing.
There's a stopping clock and a photo of Miranda in the room.
The maid, Alice, also plans to leave the school.
Mrs. Appleyard calls Doris Lunley and Sara 'weaklings.'
Mrs. Appleyard goes through Miranda and Sara's rooms.
A gardener is working.
A letter from Sara's guardian says he's coming there to clear up any problems.

Chapter 16

The policeman Bumpher gets a personal letter from Dianna (the French teacher.)
The letter raises doubts about Mrs. Appleyard's claims Sara had left the school.
Bumpher learns from his wife that Mrs. Appleyard is known for flying into rages.
The gardener finds Sara's body.
Her skull seems to be crushed.
(This raises a question: did Sara fall from a window far enough to cause so much damage to her head or was she, perhaps, killed and then thrown out the window?)
Ben Hussey's statement to the police is shown.
Mrs. Appleyard takes a carriage to near the Rock.
She gets out and starts to climb it.
She jumps off a cliff and dies.

Chapter 17

This is a newspaper article from 13 years later. The school burned down the following year.
Irma is now a countess.
Someone from the Society for Psychical Research had talked to her.
Irma still doesn't remember what happened.

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