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The Exiles : A Novel

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  18,202 ratings  ·  2,776 reviews
The author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Orphan Train returns with an ambitious, emotionally resonant novel that captures the hardship, oppression, opportunity and hope of a trio of women’s lives in nineteenth-century Australia.

Seduced by her employer’s son, Evangeline, a naïve young governess in early nineteenth-century London, is discharged when her pregnancy is di
Hardcover, 370 pages
Published August 25th 2020 by Custom House
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Christina Kline In the novel (and in history), the Quaker social reformer Elizabeth Fry gave the convict women numbered tin tickets to wear around their necks as iden…moreIn the novel (and in history), the Quaker social reformer Elizabeth Fry gave the convict women numbered tin tickets to wear around their necks as identification before they left for Australia. Tin Ticket was one of a dozen titles I considered before settling on The Exiles. It must've been on an earlier draft. Sorry for the confusion!(less)
Katvinya As a disclaimer there is attempted rape and a hostage situation. Otherwise I'd say this is pretty tame.…moreAs a disclaimer there is attempted rape and a hostage situation. Otherwise I'd say this is pretty tame.(less)

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Christina Kline
Jul 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
I have to add this to my own bookshelf, don't you think? ...more
Angela M
I learned about things I had little or no knowledge of. I cried because the story of the women depicted here was heartbreaking and especially so because it tells of things that really happened. I was also inspired because the strength of these characters allowed them to rise above their dire circumstances. Christina Baker Kline, though provides a realistic picture and not all of the characters can escape their fate. With her exceptional story telling and meticulous research, as well as beautiful ...more
Meredith ( on Semi-Hiatus until February)
“She was about to learn what it was like to be contemptible.”

4.5 stars

The Exiles is a historical novel that takes place primarily in 19th century Australia about the fate of two women sentenced to be transported to a life of servitude, and a young indigenous girl who is forcefully taken from her people and her land to become an object in the Governor’s home.

Evangeline, a governess, Mathinna, a young aboriginal girl, and Hazel, a thief: three characters with little in common except all are for
Oct 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A fine example of what historical fiction should offer: well-developed characters, some historic figures, the feel of the times, places and events, and a plot that keeps you interested.
Stories of female exiles, interior and exterior, for whom fate did not deal the best of cards ... The main female characters are strong and have the courage to stand up against the male brutality during the voyage and later on in Australia and Tasmania. Ms Kline offers us a terrific insight into the transportation
Lindsay - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews
5 exquisite stars for this beautiful book!

This novel follows several brave and inspiring women on a journey that weaves their lives together in unexpected ways. It is a story about the strength, determination and endless drive found deep within a woman’s soul. It is a powerful depiction of how women hold each other up in this world.

Told through multiple perspectives, I was invested in every character from start to finish. I loved what each character brought to the storyline, each narrative added
Sep 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In school I had little interest in history and this is why I have come to love historical fiction as an adult.
I had no knowledge of this part of Australian/British 19th century history and their penal system.
This novel follows two young English women (wrongly accused) sent by an overly crowded slave ship to Australia’s Newgate prison, and also follows an eight year old Aboriginal girl adopted by white colonists just as a “curiosity” and an attempt to “civilize” her.
The bravery of these three th
Diane S ☔
Sep 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Compelling characters, vivid descriptions and a wonderful, heartbreaking story of courage and bravery. The 19th century and women accused of breaking crimes are sentenced to transport, headed for Australia. One for stealing a spoon, one betrayed by a son if the house accused if stealing a ring, it really didn't take much. We learn about the horrors of Newgate, the crude treatment on the ship, the details are extraordinary, impressive. Yet, these women, in some cases banded together, watched out ...more
Elyse  Walters
Sep 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“The Exiles” was a tremendous historical fiction novel.
In South Whales, a state in southeast Australia, was founded by the British as a penal colony in 1788. Over the next 80 years, more than 160,000, (32,000 women), convicts were transported to Australia from England, Ireland, Scotland, and Whales, in lieu of being given the death penalty.
Common crimes committed by convicts were petty theft, burglary, stealing, military offenses, and prostitution.
The convicts were employed to work for the fre
Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews
The Exiles explores a part of history I had no idea about. Christina Baker Kline brings us a well-researched powerful, emotional story that weaves history, real-life people, and fiction as she captures the hardship of four women set in 19 century Australia.

The story centers around three English female convicts being transported to a prison in Australia by boat and an orphaned Aboriginal girl Matthina. An English governor's wife takes her in out of curiosity to see if she can turn a savage into
4+ It was no surprise to learn in the acknowledgments that Christina Baker Kline’s father is a historian or that her mother was a women’s studies professor. Kline’s appreciation of history and the skillful way she communicates the lives of marginalized women are on display in this unique story of the exiled. It feels raw and gritty, sad and hopeful, but true to the place and time about which she writes, 1840s Australia and London. It is the historical details that give the story conviction but i ...more
Jan 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I love when historical fiction takes me to remote places and teaches me history I was unaware of. When stories are fictional but based on reality, it can be shocking but satisfying when it’s well written and researched.
19th century Australia.
3 females whose lives are dramatically turned upside down. All ending up on Van Diemen's Island. Young Mathinna, an aboriginal, who is taken from her tribe to appease some English woman’s fantasy of taming a brute.
Evangeline, a young woman, seduced by her em
Oct 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
5 haunting stars

This story is still haunting me a few days after I’ve finished it, I devoured it in just two sittings. One of my favorite things about good historical fiction is that I learn things and it helps put the world into context for me. One new item for me was learning there were transports of female criminals to Australia from England when I thought it was just men. A large chunk of this book chronicles one such transport from London to Van Diemen’s Land/Tasmania. It’s also very intere
Jul 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“When you cut down a tree, you can tell how old it is by the rings inside. The more rings, the sturdier the tree. So . . . I imagine I’m a tree. And every moment that mattered to me, or person I loved, is a ring.” She put the flat of her hand on her chest. “All of them here. Keeping me strong.”

Again, CBK has educated me on a piece of history I was unaware of... Britain’s colonization of Australia by the transporting of convicts and the “relocating” of the Aboriginal people. I felt every ounce of
British Empire over the period of 80 years, 1788-1868, exiled more than 160,000 criminals to the penal colonies in Australia. The majority of convicts were transported for petty crimes. Approximately 1 in 7 convicts were women, which had an extremely tough life in Australia. “The guards who were volunteers seemed to be driven by exceptional sadism.”

Flinders Island, Australia, 1840. Mathinna (true character), eight-years-old, despite being a daughter of the chieftain, has been growing up living w
Nov 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio, library
Admittedly, this historical fiction starts off on a time worn trope - the governess seduced by the young master of the house. But once you get beyond that, it’s an appealing and informative work. Kline does a wonderful job of painting the different scenes, whether in Newcastle prison, the Madea or Australia. I felt like I could picture each of the various scenes.
The story is told from the perspective of three characters - Evangeline, the governess accused of theft; Hazel, a pickpocket and Mathi
Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)
I was aware of the penal colonies that Britain had established in Australia and the fact that Britain's criminals were sent there to work off their sentences. I, however, never thought that women criminals also were sent to work as servants and do other jobs to work off sentences imposed on them.

Ms Kline takes us there through her character of Evangeline, a young naive girl who is seduced and becomes pregnant by the youngest son of the affluent house she worked in. He pledges his admiration with
Fiona Davis
Jun 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Exiles is truly a work for these times, about the abuse of power and how the voices of the less powerful will not be ignored. Original, meticulously researched, and perfectly crafted. One of the best books I've read all year. ...more
Susan Meissner
Sep 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Haven’t read a book this fast in a long time! Seriously couldn’t put it down. Compelling and immersive and expertly researched. The backdrop - the convict ships that made their way to Australia in the 1800s full of young women and even their little ones - was one I knew nothing about. Highly recommend and do read the author’s note a the end when you’re finished.
Aug 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
5 stars!

Even though I’ve had most of Christina Baker Kline’s works (including her 2 most famous ones Orphan Train and A Piece of the World ) on my TBR for quite a while already, I’m sorry to say that I have not been able to explore her backlist as I’ve been intending to (mostly due to timing issues). Despite not having read her previous works (yet), that didn’t prevent me from jumping on the chance to read an advance copy of her latest historical novel, The Exiles (scheduled for relea
Sep 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Well, this was a punch to the gut. Be prepared to be sad. And hopeful. And angry. And sad some more.

I listened to this on audiobook and I highly recommend that if you like audiobooks - there's a lot of accents in the characters of this book and even a little bit of singing and the narrator carries it all off seemingly effortlessly.

As for the plot of the book itself - it focuses on several women and what leads them to Australia under less than ideal circumstances to say the least. I didn't cry (
Lisa  (not getting friends updates) Vegan
I won an Advanced Readers’ edition paperback copy of this book at LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review. (Thank you to LibraryThing and to the publisher William Morrow!) I received it more promptly than I’d expected on 7/16. I read it from 7/19-7/23 early morning hours. Publication date is scheduled to be on 8/25. It was fun reading this book in advance of publication. It was gratifying reading a paper edition of a book given that I’ve been mostly reading e-editions during the last sever ...more
Oct 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Exiles is a MUST READ for any historical fiction lover. It’s educational, based on real events, heart achingly beautiful, brilliantly written and it will make your heart break.

The book focuses on a time when Britain’s government shipped convicts to Australia to be rid off them. It was almost like ship them off, and forget they ever existed.

And the book did not pull any punches.

Before going into the book I knew a little bit about the events. But nothing prepared me for this book. It was eyeop
Oct 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Christina Baker Kline’s extraordinary, brilliant and vivid use of prose transported me to a time in history that I knew little about. The Exiles, through Christina Baker Kline’s powerful, and masterful story telling coupled with her impeccable research, wove a story about the ugliness of the English judicial system in the 1840’s. All the characters In The Exile were well developed, both the main characters and the secondary ones. The Exiles, like The Orphan Train and A Piece of the World, became ...more
I went into this book thinking about how much I enjoyed the author’s book Orphan Train and hoping that I would be blown away again. Sadly I wasn’t blown away at all.
Shame on me for not remembering A Piece of the World which I read with the same expectations and sadly I wasn’t blown away by it either.

I don’t necessarily like books that have multiple stories that intertwine characters and plots unless the book moves along. The Exiles started out quite nicely but then, for this reader, it petered o
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
What a wonderful history lesson and beautifully written book.

I have never heard of these ships that took female prisoners from England to Australia to work off their sentences and who were charged with crimes of no consequence such as stealing a spoon.

We meet Evangeline who was a governess accused of stealing a ring that the son of the person she worked for gave her and who suffered through her months in a filthy prison then on the boat to Australia.

We meet Hazel a midwife and girl who knew how
Jun 15, 2020 rated it liked it
A quick read and very engaging. One more reason to despise colonialism. However, one main character, the Aboriginal girl treated as a pet by the British governor’s wife, basically disappears from the story. Very disheartening, but, sadly, hardly surprising.
Kathryn in FL
I greatly admire Ms. Baker Kline's writing skills. She is not only a consummate storyteller, her characters are quite alive and dynamic. Much of the story focuses on the oppressive prison system of the British in the mid 1800's, there was little mercy for even the smallest of infractions of the law. Due to overcrowding of the prisons, young, poor citizens were sent on a brutal four month journey to Australia riding in hold of former slave ships!

Some of the women aboard including one of the prima
Dec 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
[3.8] A solid historical novel that vividly evokes the lives of female convicts transported from London to Australia. In alternating chapters, Kline also tells the story of Mathinna, an indigenous Australian girl sent to live with white colonists. Well done and engaging, but I was disappointed that Mathinna's story was abbreviated. ...more
Aug 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
✨WOW!✨ All of the stars for this beautiful book! This was a unique story on a piece of history that I knew nothing about! I learned a lot and had my heart shredded (in the best way possible). ♥️ This is a masterpiece of a book, and one that the author obviously put an extensive amount of research into. From London, to a derelict prison, to a slave ship, and ending in Australia- this is a sweeping tale and one that left me breathless with anticipation. The Exiles is an exploration of human tenaci ...more
Deborah Lloyd
After receiving an advance reader’s edition of "The Exiles", with a request that I submit a review, I wanted to love this novel. Sadly, I couldn’t get there. The novel showcases brilliantly the author’s ability to generate an interesting historical narrative from scrupulously researched material, and within this context, develop a cohesive story line. Sadly, this technical prowess is the best aspect of the reading experience. The novel lacks passion and real empathy for the characters. They are ...more
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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, ...more

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Let’s face it, 2020 is making us long for other timelines. Luckily, these 32 novels are ready to sweep you away to vastly different eras and...
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“Every person you’ve ever cared about, and every place you’ve ever loved, is one of these shells. You’re the thread that ties them together,” she’d said, touching Mathinna’s cheek. “You carry the people and places you cherish with you. Remember that and you will never be lonely, child.” 2 likes
“Evangeline had lain here, in this bed. Paced this floor. She'd been younger than Ruby when she came to this house, trying to find her way in the world, and she left it pregnant and scared, with no one to help her. Ruby thought of all the women who came into Warwick Hospital and St. Mary's Dispensary, seeking treatment. Heavy with child, or writhing in pain from venereal diseases, or carrying newborns and toddlers. All the burdens of being poor and female, as Dr. Garrett put it. No one to catch you if you fell.
Looking down at the worn pine floor, Ruby was struck by a realization; she'd been in this room before, when she was barely more than a whispered thought.
"Will you excuse me?" Mr. Whitstone said. "I'll just be a minute."
She nodded. It was late in the afternoon. She wanted to get back to her lodgings before dark. Though she wasn't looking forward to the long voyage back to Tasmania, she was eager to share what she'd learned during her year abroad.
This moment in Evangeline's room, she knew, had nothing to do with the rest of her life and everything to do with it. She would leave this house changed, but no one would ever know she'd been here.”
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