Moderator: Dawn Heffron, leader of The Music Hall’s Book Club.
The author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Orphan Train returns with an instant New York Times bestseller, The Exiles, an 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.
During the journey on a repurposed slave ship, the Medea, Evangeline strikes up a friendship with Hazel, who was sentenced to seven years transport for stealing a silver spoon. 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 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.
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. 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.
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