The Exiles – Christina Baker Kline
Australia, Britain, prisoners, women, indigenous, historical fiction.
Set in the 1840s. A young woman, Evangeline, a sheltered governess finds herself falling for someone who never comes to her rescue after she is accused of a crime she didn’t commit. She is shipped off on a ship to Australia where criminals and convicts are sent to serve their sentences. While on the journey, she meets Hazel, a young woman who is excellent at herbalogy and pickpocketing. During this time, she realizes that she is pregnant and faces challenges that no woman would ever think of. After a horrible accident leaves the child parentless, Hazel takes up the duty to become the child’s parent. Once they land in Australia, Hazel is separated from the child. She meets another child whose name Mathinna explains to her about the orphanage. It will take a lot of time for her to reunite with the child and find safety as well as a home for her, the child, and now Mathinna.
I hardly read historical fiction for a reason. Sometimes they are boring or slow. This was not the case at all. I simply loved the pacing and the plot. My heart was torn for these young women who faced these hardships that no one should really face. I didn’t really know the origins of Australia and this taught me how the English colonized by basically sending prisoners to serve sentences there rather than in England. The language and writing kept me reading this until the last page. I simply didn’t want to willingly put this book down. I suggest you go get this book to read because it is one hell of a story that I have read.