The Exiles

November 1, 2020
The Exiles

AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLEROPTIONED FOR TELEVISION BY BRUNA PAPANDREA, THE PRODUCEROF HBO'S BIG LITTLE LIES"A tour de force of original thought, imagination andpromise ... Kline takes full advantage of fiction — its freedom tocreate compelling characters who fully illuminate monumental eventsto make history accessible and forever etched in our minds." —Houston ChronicleThe author of the #1 New York Times bestseller OrphanTrain returns with an ambitious, emotionally resonant novel aboutthree women whose lives are bound together in nineteenth-centuryAustralia and the hardships they weather together as they fight forredemption and freedom in a new society.Seduced by her employer's son, Evangeline, a naïve younggoverness in early nineteenth-century London, is discharged whenher pregnancy is discovered and sent to the notorious NewgatePrison. After months in the fetid, overcrowded jail, she learns sheis sentenced to "the land beyond the seas," Van Diemen's Land, apenal colony in Australia. Though uncertain of what awaits,Evangeline knows one thing: the child she carries will be born onthe 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 olderthan her former pupils who was sentenced to seven years transportfor stealing a silver spoon. Canny where Evangeline is guileless,Hazel—a skilled midwife and herbalist—is soon offering homeremedies to both prisoners and sailors in return for a variety offavors.Though Australia has been home to Aboriginal people for morethan 50,000 years, the British government in the 1840s considersits fledgling colony uninhabited and unsettled, and views thenatives as an unpleasant nuisance. By the time the Medea arrives,many of them have been forcibly relocated, their land seized bywhite colonists. One of these relocated people is Mathinna, theorphaned daughter of the Chief of the Lowreenne tribe, who has beenadopted by the new governor of Van Diemen's Land.In this gorgeous novel, Christina Baker Kline brilliantlyrecreates the beginnings of a new society in a beautiful andchallenging land, telling the story of Australia from a freshperspective, through the experiences of Evangeline, Hazel, andMathinna. While life in Australia is punishing and often brutallyunfair, it is also, for some, an opportunity: for redemption, for anew way of life, for unimagined freedom. Told in exquisite detailand incisive prose, The Exiles is a story of grace born fromhardship, the unbreakable bonds of female friendships, and theunfettering of legacy.