Frank, Honest, Thoughtful.
Exceptional historical fiction about a young women from England who is wrongly accused of stealing. She is sent to prison and then exiled to Australia. After a while she is able to make a new life. The detail and characters are well described and I thought it was one of the best books I’ve read in many, many months.
I was fascinated by the glimpse into a very different time. The descriptive details transported me to places I had only heard of.
Evangeline, a young governess, is arrested on a false charge and “transported” to Australia. Her lover does not rescue her and she bears his child on the ship.
In the 1840’s Britain sent thousands of “undesirables” to exile in Australia. Baker’s book tells the story of jailing and transport from the viewpoint of an educated young woman fallen on hard times and her child. Even after transport, the exiles were still jailed and then “rented out” during the day in what amounted to slave labor until their sentences were served. The hardships of jail life and transport are set forth in detail. A parallel story is the true experience of Mathinah, a young Aboriginal woman taken from her ancestral home and “adopted” by the British governor and his wife. Hers is a sad tale sympathetically told by Baker.
This finely detailed and riveting book tells a little known side of British “transport,” a cost saving solution that also sent thousands of criminals to the present day state of Georgia. Beautifully written and well researched, this book deserves your time.
The plight of the indigenous people
My thoughts go to the indigenous people world over who were exploited and raped of their culture and ethnicity. I have always wanted to know more about Australia’ penal colony and it was quite an enlightening read I experienced in The Exile.This episode in 19th century Australia and Britain exposes the plight of three women whose lives are bound together aboard “ The Medea” to Van Diemens Land, the penal colony.
I enjoyed reading about the bond built by these women , their stories, hardships, and challenges.
Stories are everywhere : from the Native American Indians in the United States who were slaughtered and trampled on, the Africans brought to American shores, the Burmese of Myanmar- change the names and the stories are the same of being colonized and left to fend alone.
I loved this book because it made me want to to read more atrocities suffered under British rule. This was an unapologetic reveal about the past and how history cannot be forgotten.
Every year, there is one book that sticks out as an excellent read; one that stays with you and you think of often; the story never leaves you. This book, about very strong women under challenging circumstances and how they manage to not only survive, but to thrive. I am so impressed by the author’s writing and the fact that the story never lulled. This is one of the most interesting books I’ve ever read. Kudos to Christina Baker Kline. I have become a fan.
ELIZABETH @Silver’s Reviews
ELIZABETH @ SILVER’S REVIEWS – FANTASTIC
I have never heard of these ships that took female prisoners from England to Australia to work off their sentences and who were charged with crimes of no consequence such as stealing a spoon.
We meet Evangeline who was a governess accused of stealing a ring that the son of the person she worked for gave her and who suffered through her months in a filthy prison then on the boat to Australia.
We meet Hazel a midwife and girl who knew how to heal with herbs who was on the transport ship with Evangeline, and they became fast friends as Evangeline taught her to read.
The horrible conditions and abuse these women had to endure is appalling, but the friendships made and the closeness of the women on the boat was wonderful.
In another story line, we meet Mathinna who was taken from her family by an aristocrat and his wife to live in their home. They cared nothing about how Mathinna felt to be all alone because they liked to “collect” things.
All three women suffered immeasurably in the lives they led and in situations that are mesmerizing but heartbreaking.
Ms. Kline has done impeccable research and enlightened us about this time in history and had me looking up Mathinna, the prisons, and Hobart Town.
Another outstanding read with beautifully flowing writing and definitely a book you won’t want to miss.
I didn’t want to stop reading and looked forward to returning to the book. 5/5
This book was given to me by the publisher and Book Browse in exchange for an honest review.
This is sure to make great television
After Evangeline’s father dies, she becomes a governess in early 19th-century London. But after she has an affair with the adult son of the household, she ends up pregnant and in Newgate prison. From there, she is shipped with other prisoners to Australia.
On board, Evangeline meets Hazel, a midwife and herbalist. It is Hazel, not Evangeline, who plays the largest part in this story.
But this book is also about a third female, Mathinna. She is an Aboriginal child, taken on a whim to live among white people.
I read that this is to be made into a TV series. It is sure to make great television.