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Christina Baker Kline, author of The Exiles

Seduced by her employer’s son, Evangeline, a naïve young governess in early 19th-century London, is discharged when her pregnancy is discovered and sent to the notorious Newgate Prison. Months later, she is sentenced to Van Diemen’s Land, a penal colony in Australia. During the journey on a repurposed slave ship, the Medea, Evangeline strikes up a friendship with Hazel, who was sentenced to seven years transport for stealing a silver spoon. Though Australia has been home to Aboriginal people for more than 50,000 years, the British government considers its fledgling colony uninhabited and unsettled. By the time the Medea arrives, many of them have been forcibly relocated, including Mathinna, who has been adopted by the new governor of Van Diemen’s Land.

The Exiles by Christina Baker Kline

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.