The Drover’s Wife: The Legend of Molly Johnson by Leah Purcell – Book Review

The short story by Henry Lawson is a key part of Australian literature – a woman in the early days of colonialisation lives with her family deep in the bush, her husband off for much of the year droving. When a brown snake escapes the woodpile, she must dispatch it whilst keeping her children and dog safe from the snake’s lethal venom.

A few years ago, Leah Purcell retold this story for the stage. As a proud Goa-Gunggari-Wakka Wakka Murri woman, she add both female and First Nations perspectives to the story. I regret not seeing the stage play, especially after reading the book. It captures the spirit of the short story, but adds depth and creates a whole new world for not only the Drover’s Wife and her family, but for the Australia of its time.

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