Synopses & Reviews
An instant New York Times Bestseller. Optioned for Television by Bruna Papandrea, the producer of HBO's Big Little Lies!
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
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.
"Both uplifting and
heartbreaking, this beautifully written novel doesn't flinch from the
ugliness of the penal system but celebrates the courage and resilience
of both the first peoples and the settlers who came after..." Library Journal (Starred Review)
"Monumental....This episode in
history gets a top-notch treatment by Kline, one of our foremost
historical novelists. This fascinating 19th-century take on
Orange Is the New Black is subtle, intelligent, and thrillingly melodramatic." Kirkus Reviews
surprising twists, empathetic prose, and revealing historical details,
Kline's resonant, powerful story will please any historical fiction
fan." Publishers Weekly
About the Author
Christina Baker Kline is the author of six novels, including the #1 New York Times bestseller Orphan Train as well as A Piece of the World.
She lives outside New York City and spends as much time as possible on
the coast of Maine. Learn more about Christina at