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The Exiles

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  5,272 ratings  ·  1,020 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)

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 ·  5,272 ratings  ·  1,020 reviews

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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
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?
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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 (
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
Lisa 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
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
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
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
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
Meg Clayton
Jun 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a treat to get an early read of this one! more when I have a minute, but loved loved loved!
Apr 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley, edelweiss
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 portra ...more
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
Amanda Ward
May 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I was lucky enough to read an early draft of this magnificent book. It's a sweeping historical love story with women at its center--just fantastic!
There are a handful of strong female characters in The Exiles. Three most notable are Evangeline from London, a prisoner who was sent to Tasmania for (falsely accused) petty crime. Her journey on the prisoner ship was some of the most heart wrenching part of the book. She developed a friendship with Hazel another convict on the ship. Third, an Aboriginal girl, Mathinna who was "adopted" by the governor's wife of Hobart Town capital of Tasmania. Mathinna is her project to train and "domesticated" ...more
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.
Sep 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well-researched and enlightening novel about British penal colonies founded in Australia ; transportation and lives of convict women exiled there. According to BBC, today 20% of Australians are the descendants of British convicts. Between 1788 and 1868, about 162,000 convicts were transported from Britain and Ireland to various penal colonies in Australia. This novel spans mainly from 1840-1843.
Evangeline is a 21 year old governess, charged with crimes of attempted murder and larceny. She is s
Sep 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In 1840 on Flinder’s Island, Australia, we meet eight-year-old Mathinna, the daughter of the Palawa tribe’s deceased chief. British colonization has been destroying the native Aboriginal people. Mathinna is introduced to British Governor John Franklin and his wife. The couple is fascinated by the native child who is educated and not the savage they expected. They decide to bring her into their home, Government House. This is not an act of kindness but done to put her on display for their friends ...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
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 a ...more
Laura • lauralovestoread
Oct 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
Is there anything better than picking up the newest book of a beloved author? I read The Orphan Train years ago, and my heart was so raw afterwards, reeling at the fact that something like that took place in history. Once again, Christina Baker Kline has taken a point of history that I was previously unaware of, and blown my mind. Her dedication to research and attention to detail is unmatched.

The Exiles is such a heartbreaking story of the injustice women faced in the 1800s. Britain established
David Lawrence
Sep 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most interesting books I've ever read about ship loads of prisoners, who were not prisoners, but innocent victims of the times... judged and mocked at both ports, by the garbage who called themselves society...

"They were made to sit in the dark chapel and listen to sermons about a hell they’d never imagined and moral instruction they didn’t need, singing hymns that promised salvation in exchange for suffering."
Kline, Christina Baker. The Exiles (pp. 76-77). Custom House. Kindle Editio
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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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