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The Exiles

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The Exiles

September 2020

I confess to knowing nothing about the penal colonies in Australia before reading THE EXILES. In it, Christina Baker Kline takes us to Australia in the mid-1800s when the country was being populated with convicts from the UK, who were sent there by ship, in droves. She tells the story through the eyes of three young women: one from England, one from Wales and one from Tasmania. She gives us such a strong sense of the country, which was so primitive.

When Evangeline, a young governess in London, is discovered to be pregnant, she is first sent to a notorious prison and then is given a 14-year sentence in Australia. On the ship sailing to this remote land, she meets Hazel, who is sentenced for stealing a silver spoon. The third woman, Mathinna, is native to Tasmania and is seen as a pet project for a wealthy couple. The novel’s structure gives light to multiple perspectives and brings this piece of history to readers who may know little about it. For years, the penal colony in Australia was kept under wraps. As Christina was researching, more and more about these times came out.

In her writing, Christina makes a daring move with a character --- one that I did not foresee --- and I am not going to give away any more than that. I finished it more informed than I had been, and wanting to read even more about this time in Australian history. There is lots here for book clubs to discuss!

The Exiles
by Christina Baker Kline

  • Publication Date: August 25, 2020
  • Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Custom House
  • ISBN-10: 0062356348
  • ISBN-13: 9780062356345