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The Exiles
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The Exiles

A Novel

Bookseller Recommendation

The Exiles

“"The Exiles" is a powerful and gorgeously written portrait of colonial Australia during the Transportation. From Evangeline, a pregnant convict determined to make a better life for herself after incarceration, to Mathinna, a Palawa Aborigine forcibly adopted from her home and community in Flinders, and still to so many others, Kline creates a page-turning story about how disempowered women survive the fates bestowed onto them, and effect change both in their lives and those of others. I read between print and audiobook, and must mention that Caroline Lee's mastery of a variety of accents from the British diaspora made the characters all the more distinct and real. She brought Kline's words, already compelling, to life.”

Oxford Exchange image Cat, Oxford Exchange

Description

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.

 


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