Member Reviews

The Exiles is told from four points of view. Each one is a strong female character facing difficult hardships from a very young age. Mathinna is a native who is forced to leave her land at the whim of of the English Governor and his wife, hoping to save the "savage" by educating her. Evangeline is the daughter of a minister working as a governess. She falls for the son of her employer and is accused of murder. We meet Hazel on the Medea, the wooden ship Evangeline is also sailing on. The two are sentenced to prison time in Australia for their crimes. Lastly, we have Ruby, Evangeline's daughter who was born aboard the Medea. The author describes the circumstances in which the character finds themselves in with great care and depth. The reader begins to care about their events in their lives and empathize with their situation. Also, one learns about the treachery and injustices women in the 1840's lived through if they were accused of a crime, especially if they were poor and uneducated.

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The Exiles
A Novel
by Christina Baker Kline
HarperCollins Publishers
You Like Them You Are Auto-Approved
Custom House
General Fiction (Adult) | Literary Fiction

Great book for book clubs. Good story!
5 star

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I love historical fiction, and this book is definitely a part of my love. Like Eileen said, there were times that it was too descriptive, but that did not take away from the overall message of the book. This may make my final list.

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This book got off to a slow start and there was a jarring twist in the middle but all in all it was an amazing book. I learned a lot about the convict transports to Tasmania and the forced resettlement of the indigenous people. While the story of Hazel and Evangeline was heartbreaking I would have liked to know more about Mathinna. I really feel like possibly it was a metaphor for her whole life that she was basically forgotten about towards the end of the book. An informative and fascinating read.

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Deep, rich characters and engrossing plot will take the reader on a wonderful adventure. Perfect for book clubs!

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The novel takes place in 19th century Australia where Evangeline is seduced by her employer's son and promptly discarded when she discovers she's pregnant. She finds herself thrown in jail, where she meets Hazel, a skilled midwife whom she quickly befriends. Kline captures the beautiful story of friendship and courage and in her latest novel.

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Evangeline Stowe, an innocent young English girl orphaned lately from her vicar father, educated but naive enters the employ of a dysfunctional family as a governess and is lured into love by the older son. Jealousy erupts from a maid in the house and she is wrongly accused of a crime. Convicted and pregnant, she's sentenced to be 'transported' to Australia and where she's to be confined for 14 years. Pregnant on a 4 month voyage tortured by horrible conditions and a sadistic ex-con sailor, her fates are changed by other women on the voyage and the ship's doctor. What happens to her, her baby and those who tried to help her sometimes to their own detriment makes for a dramatic journey for us all.

Mathinna is an Australian Aborigine who is snatched from her native land and all that she know to be 'civilized' by an English Lord and Lady. Treated like an object, a curiosity and a bother, she tries in vain to become someone else who might be accepted by her new 'family' yet her black skin makes her always an outsider. Intelligent and innocent she seems doomed to be a novelty and finds that even at her worst, she can't go home. She's no longer that 8 year old person who loved her people and her land.

These stories cross in an orphanage where a baby and a 9 year old child are confined at the same time.

Christina Baker Kline, author of another great book, A Piece of the World, writes with insight and truth.

A worthy read, with perhaps limited appeal due to it's historical placement.

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This novel highlights that the mid-19th century was not kind to women. A naïve vicar’s daughter is seduced by a wealthy cad, falsely accused of several crimes, and goes from the infamous Newgate prison, to her sentence as a convict transported to Australia. An aboriginal orphan amuses the wife of an Australian governor, and is taken into their home. She’s dressed up and shown off until she no longer amuses them, then is sent away without another word. The convict women being transported suffer at the hands of some cruel people on their ship. There is quite a bit of cruelty in this story. So much death, lying, and unkindness made it hard to read at times--well-written but depressing. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for this ARC.

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I loved loved loved this book! A well written story of 1840’s Austrailia. It tells the stories of Evangeline, Mathinna and Hazel, all 3 having to deal with being women who were either wrongly accused or victims of their circumstances. I couldn’t put this book down. Ms. Baker has always been able to tell a compelling story about important times in history and I think this is one of her best.

I would recommend this book for anuone interested in Austrailian history of the prison system and for book groups.

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This book is well-written and easy to get sucked into. I didn't feel as connected to the characters as I like to be when reading books, but they are interesting. Some of the story seemed jumpy and not as well developed to me, but overall, I enjoyed reading it.

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Note: This book will be published September 15; I read an advance readers' edition.
Christina Baker Kline is a master of historical fiction and I love her books Orphan Train and A Piece of the World. The Exiles is an excellent book as well, well written and very clearly well researched. Set in the mid-1800s in Van Diemen’s Land, Australia (now known as the island of Tasmania), it details the lives of female prisoners shipped to the penal colony from England and a young aboriginal girl who is taken in by the new governor of the land. Evangeline and Hazel endure horrific conditions in the London prison they are sent to for their minor crimes and then a harrowing four month journey by ship to their new home across the world. Mathinna is the orphaned nine-year-old daughter of the Chief of the Lowreenne tribe, who is forcibly relocated and confused about how she fits into this new world. It was so interesting and heartbreaking to learn about this period of history.

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The mistreatment of women in 1840 was abominable. This novel tells the story of the richer class and their low regards for those under them. Evangeline, Hazel and others met on their travel through women's prison. I don't know how they survived. Mesmerized by the story.Loved it!!

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A great story about the transport of female convicts from England to Australia and the hardships they faced. Along with the hardships, there was also the opportunity to forge a new life away from England’s society’s norms.

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In 19th century London, Evangeline, a governess to an influential family, finds herself in Newgate Prison after becoming pregnant by her employer’s son. She is going to be transported to a penal colony in Australia. On board the ship transporting her to her now home, Evangeline befriends, Hazel, a midwife and herbalist. When they arrive in Australia, they are confronted with the fact that the British government has relocated many of the native people, whom they consider savages. And Evangeline meets a young woman named Mathinna, the daughter of a murdered local Chief who has been adopted by the governor of the penal colony. The story of these three young women, found guilty of nothing more than being female, poor and different strike up remarkable friendship that lights up the pages of this book with incandescent wonder

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Lovely. Just lovely. I need to do research about the female inmates going to Australia. I had no clue. I could have read for hours about this topic. Well done!

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I was so excited to have received an advanced copy of this as Christina Baker Kline is one of my favorite authors. Once again she has created a literary sensation. Ive noticed that there is not a lot of contemporary historical fiction set in Australia, so I was thrilled to read about both the plight of prisoners exiled from England, as well as the aboriginal people. Kline is an exquisite writer who paints pictures of both the well-drawn characters and the harsh settings, which include the portrayal of the brutal conditions of both the English and Australian prisons, as well as the hardships the prisoners faced on the former slave ship as they journey from England to the prison colony known today as Tasmania. Kline has obviously done extensive research and has turned it into what will be a huge 2020 hit in the historical fiction genre..

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The author has found, and saved, children in every book she’s written that I’ve read. Evangeline, Hazel, Olive, and Mathinna represent the women I most like to know about. In other words, a wronged governess, a folk midwife/herbalist, a tough criminal (with heart of gold) and coming-of-age aboriginal girl live and survive in my favorite literary country, Australia/Tasmania. But wait, plot twist a third of the way through…and Ruby arrives. I would recommend this title to anyone with a heart and an interest in little known historical injustices brought to life.

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Orphan Train changed my life, I also enjoyed her other books.

Searching for a book to read during quarantine, saw this - had to read!

I got to travel back to 1840...
got to meet:
* Evangeline - accused of a crime she did not commit;
changing her and turning her life in a complete new direction
* Mathinna - a collection masterpiece for someone's museum of native artifacts,
-to further study native life in Australia
*Hazel - a young woman with a knowledge before her time and years
--then and now called "Old Wives' Tales" for using garlic, vinegar, such.
She used arnica for pain!!


I got completely invested in this story, I felt for the characters, I had to keep reading to the last word.

Another good read!!

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I have read books before about the transport of convicts to penal colonies in Australia. Interesting take on the women who were transported in this new book. I enjoyed Orphan Train by this author, this new book by author is just as well done. For a quick historical read, this met my expectations.

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