AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
OPTIONED FOR TELEVISION BY BRUNA PAPANDREA, THE PRODUCER OF HBO'S BIG LITTLE LIES
“A tour de force of original thought, imagination and promise … Kline takes full advantage of fiction — its freedom to create compelling characters who fully illuminate monumental events to make history accessible and forever etched in our minds." — Houston Chronicle
The author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Orphan Train returns with an ambitious, emotionally resonant novel about three women whose lives are bound together in nineteenth-century Australia and the hardships they weather together as they fight for redemption and freedom in a new society.
Seduced by her employer’s son, Evangeline, a naïve young governess in early nineteenth-century London, is discharged when her pregnancy is discovered and sent to the notorious Newgate Prison. After months in the fetid, overcrowded jail, she learns she is sentenced to “the land beyond the seas,” Van Diemen’s Land, a penal colony in Australia. Though uncertain of what awaits, Evangeline knows one thing: the child she carries will be born on the months-long voyage to this distant land.
During the journey on a repurposed slave ship, the Medea, Evangeline strikes up a friendship with Hazel, a girl little older than her former pupils who was sentenced to seven years transport for stealing a silver spoon. Canny where Evangeline is guileless, Hazel—a skilled midwife and herbalist—is soon offering home remedies to both prisoners and sailors in return for a variety of favors.
Though Australia has been home to Aboriginal people for more than 50,000 years, the British government in the 1840s considers its fledgling colony uninhabited and unsettled, and views the natives as an unpleasant nuisance. By the time the Medea arrives, many of them have been forcibly relocated, their land seized by white colonists. One of these relocated people is Mathinna, the orphaned daughter of the Chief of the Lowreenne tribe, who has been adopted by the new governor of Van Diemen’s Land.
In this gorgeous novel, Christina Baker Kline brilliantly recreates the beginnings of a new society in a beautiful and challenging land, telling the story of Australia from a fresh perspective, through the experiences of Evangeline, Hazel, and Mathinna. While life in Australia is punishing and often brutally unfair, it is also, for some, an opportunity: for redemption, for a new way of life, for unimagined freedom. Told in exquisite detail and incisive prose, The Exiles is a story of grace born from hardship, the unbreakable bonds of female friendships, and the unfettering of legacy.
In the gripping latest from Kline (Orphan Train), three women try to carve out lives in mid-19th-century colonial Australia. Aborigine Matthina is eight years old when she's seen by the wife of the governor of an English settlement on a visit to her home island, Wybalenna. After learning Matthina can speak English, the woman decides to take her back to Flinders in southern Australia as a curiosity and an experiment in forced civilization. Meanwhile, in London, Evangeline is the orphaned daughter of a vicar working as a governess to the children of a wealthy family. But after Evangeline is seduced by the family's eldest son and her secret pregnancy is discovered, she is arrested, held in Newgate prison, and sentenced to transport to the penal colonies of Australia. She shares the voyage to her new life with Hazel, the hardscrabble daughter of a midwife who turns her knowledge of medicine into an asset aboard the ship. The narratives converge when their ship docks in Van Diemen's Land (modern-day Tasmania), where Matthina, who has been adopted by the island's governor, now lives. The women, all brought to their new lives against their wills, become a lens through which to see the development of colonial Australia. Filled with surprising twists, empathetic prose, and revealing historical details, Kline's resonant, powerful story will please any historical fiction fan.
Historically interesting. A good read.
Unfortunately the characters in this novel never get a chance to bloom. It was a great idea for a book but poor executed. I would not recommend it.
As an Aussie and descendant of two convicts, I thoroughly enjoyed