The Exiles

The Exiles


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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.


Title:The Exiles
Edition Language:English
Format Type:

    The Exiles Reviews

  • Christina Kline

    I have to add this to my own bookshelf, don't you think?...

  • Angela M

    I learned about things I had little or no knowledge of. I cried because the story of the women depicted here was heartbreaking and especially so because it tells of things that really happened. I was ...

  • Meredith

    “She was about to learn what it was like to be contemptible.” 4.5 stars The Exiles is a historical novel that takes place primarily in 19th century Australia about the fate of two women sentenced ...

  • Beata

    A fine example of what historical fiction should offer: well-developed characters, some historic figures, the feel of the times, places and events, and a plot that keeps you interested.Stories of fema...

  • Lindsay - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews

    5 exquisite stars for this beautiful book!This novel follows several brave and inspiring women on a journey that weaves their lives together in unexpected ways. It is a story about the strength, deter...

  • Karen

    In school I had little interest in history and this is why I have come to love historical fiction as an adult. I had no knowledge of this part of Australian/British 19th century history and their pena...

  • Diane S ?

    Compelling characters, vivid descriptions and a wonderful, heartbreaking story of courage and bravery. The 19th century and women accused of breaking crimes are sentenced to transport, headed for Aust...

  • Elyse  Walters

    “The Exiles” was a tremendous historical fiction novel. In South Whales, a state in southeast Australia, was founded by the British as a penal colony in 1788. Over the next 80 years, more than 160...

  • Libby

    4+ It was no surprise to learn in the acknowledgments that Christina Baker Kline’s father is a historian or that her mother was a women’s studies professor. Kline’s appreciation of history and t...

  • Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews

    The Exiles explores a part of history I had no idea about. Christina Baker Kline brings us a well-researched powerful, emotional story that weaves history, real-life people, and fiction as she capture...