The Exiles by Christina Baker Kline (ARC – Releases 8.25.2020)

I learned SO much reading this novel! I had no idea that this is what happened with women prisoners – just ship them off to Australia. A completely foreign, unknown country to them. They are sent there to with be incarcerated and if they were lucky they could get chosen for different work details for the prison or others in the community. This story is told through the voices and eyes of a couple of different females. Three who were prisoners sent on this ship to this other world, and a girl who was born and raised on this island and was then “adopted” by a governors wife, she wanted to prove that this child could be refined.

Evangeline has been sentenced for stealing a ring and attempted murder. A crime she did not commit – the ring was given to her as a gift, and yes she did push the other maid down the stairwell, but it was to murder her. Evangeline gets told she is being put on the ship, and being sent to Australia. She befriends Olive who is also being put on the ship. Olive has helped Evangeline understand the way of prison life. They also then befriend another girl, Hazel.

Unfortunately as these women are known as prisoners, men and others take what they want when they want. These women have a tumultuous journey for months on this ship, and can only hope and pray they make it to land, unlike so many who die and are buried at sea on the voyager over. Evangeline, not only was given the ring as a gift, but is also with child. The others help her to get food and to stay healthy during this voyage as she is very high risk being pregnant.

Mathinna has lost her family, and now she is losing her step-father who she has gotten used to raising her. A white woman wants to adopt her, and refine her into a little girl. Mathinna is not sure what to think, she is afraid for being pulled from everything she has ever known to be made a showcase for this woman. She cannot believe the house, clothing and education she is getting, but it is not the same life. She cannot be herself and is always getting scolded for things she does, that was acceptable in her old life.

Just was what happens with the women getting shipped off, Mathinna then gets sent away as well when the governors wife is done with her. She gets sent to an orphanage, since she has no family left where she came from. Poor Mathinna can now be herself, but she is also forced into another place she does not to be, that is worse than living with the white people.

The lives of all four of these characters all interconnect with each other, as each one learns to live in their new places and in their new roles. The four of them have all at times been a rock, and given strength and courage to the others through the hardships and harrowing adventure they’ve been forced on.

This was SUCH a good novel! I did not want to put it down! It was so interesting to read about these ships, and Australia during this time. How it was just an accepted thing, that prisoners would get dumped off on this island, knowing that many of these people would never be able to get back to where they had originally came from.

Thank you at Library Thing and William Morrow for the arc! I would add this one to your list, for those who love historical fiction, and Christina Baker Kline novels!

Publish Year: 2020

Other Recommended Reads:

Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill
A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline
Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline





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~About the Author ~ Goodreads ~

A #1 New York Times bestselling author of eight novels, including The Exiles, Orphan Train, and A Piece of the World, Christina Baker Kline is published in 40 countries. Her novels have received the New England Prize for Fiction, the Maine Literary Award, and a Barnes & Noble Discover Award, among other prizes, and have been chosen by hundreds of communities, universities and schools as “One Book, One Read” selections. Her essays, articles, and reviews have appeared in publications such as the New York Times and the NYT Book Review, the Boston Globe, the San Francisco Chronicle, LitHub, Psychology Today, Poets & Writers, and Salon.

Born in England and raised in the American South and Maine, Kline is a graduate of Yale (B.A.), Cambridge (M.A.) and the University of Virginia (M.F.A.), where she was a Hoyns Fellow in Fiction Writing. A resident of New York City and Southwest Harbor, Maine, she serves on the advisory boards of the Center for Fiction (NY), the Jesup Library (Bar Harbor, ME), the Montclair Literary Festival (NJ), the Kauai Writers Festival (HI), and Roots & Wings (NJ), and on the gala committees of Poets & Writers (NY), The Authors Guild (NY) and Friends of Acadia (ME). She is an Artist-Mentor for StudioDuke at Duke University and the BookEnds program at Stony Brook University.

Christina’s Website

Christine Baker Kline by Beowulf Sheehan

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