The Drover’s Wife is a harrowing, utterly authentic, brilliantly plotted thriller that explores race, gender, violence and inheritance.
Molly Johnson lives hidden in the country, along an old track, away from others. With her four surviving children, and one on the way, life is tough. Her husband Joe is a drover, away for months at a time, leaving his wife and children to fend for themselves in the rough Australian bush. Molly’s children are everything to her though, and she will protect them at all costs.
Molly finds that she prefers the months when Joe is away. Her oldest son, Danny is really the man of the house, the one charged with keeping his mum and siblings safe. There is plenty out there waiting to harm them: floodwaters, hunger, intruders – both man and reptile. Danny has seen far too much for his young 12 years; things that no child should see.
One night a black ‘story keeper’, Yadaka is found on their doorstep. He’s on the run from authorities in the nearby town and exchanges kindness for shelter. The more time he spends with Molly, the more Molly finds out about her past and about the secrets that could change everything.
Told from varying perspectives, The Drover’s Wife tells a powerful story. We learn about Molly’s tough life and how she handles it, and conversely, we learn of Louisa Clintoff’s life with her loving husband and son, on a great adventure from England to live in Australia. The way these stories intertwine creates a full and compelling story of love, loss, brutality and justice.
Full of fury and power, Leah Purcell’s The Drover’s Wife: The Legend of Molly Johnson is a brave reimagining of the Henry Lawson short story that has become an Australian classic. But it is so much more than just a retelling. It is a story of the harshness of the world we live in, especially the world Molly lived in in 1893. It’s a story of a woman’s strength and resilience in the face of overwhelming odds. As you read further and further, and learn more about what has happened in Molly’s past, the more you understand the choices she has made.
In a world where justice is twisted and the right doesn’t always win, this is a brilliant thriller of our pioneering past, and a harsh and realistic look at gender and race both in our past, but also in today’s world. This book will keep you turning the pages and will stay with you long after finishing.