cover image The Exiles

The Exiles

Christina Baker Kline. Morrow, $27.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-235634-5

In the gripping latest from Kline (Orphan Train), three women try to carve out lives in mid-19th-century colonial Australia. Aborigine Matthina is eight years old when she’s seen by the wife of the governor of an English settlement on a visit to her home island, Wybalenna. After learning Matthina can speak English, the woman decides to take her back to Flinders in southern Australia as a curiosity and an experiment in forced civilization. Meanwhile, in London, Evangeline is the orphaned daughter of a vicar working as a governess to the children of a wealthy family. But after Evangeline is seduced by the family’s eldest son and her secret pregnancy is discovered, she is arrested, held in Newgate prison, and sentenced to transport to the penal colonies of Australia. She shares the voyage to her new life with Hazel, the hardscrabble daughter of a midwife who turns her knowledge of medicine into an asset aboard the ship. The narratives converge when their ship docks in Van Diemen’s Land (modern-day Tasmania), where Matthina, who has been adopted by the island’s governor, now lives. The women, all brought to their new lives against their wills, become a lens through which to see the development of colonial Australia. Filled with surprising twists, empathetic prose, and revealing historical details, Kline’s resonant, powerful story will please any historical fiction fan. (Sept.)