The Exiles by Christina Baker Kline

Brenda’s review

The Exiles explores a part of history I had no idea about. Christina Baker Kline brings us a well-researched powerful, emotional story that weaves history, real-life people, and fiction as she captures the hardship of four women set in 19 century Australia.

The story centers around three English female convicts being transported to a prison in Australia by boat and an orphaned Aboriginal girl Matthina. An English governor’s wife takes her in out of curiosity to see if she can turn a savage into a proper lady.

It’s all about the strong female characters here as we follow them as they struggle to leave behind their old lives and adapt to the new ones that are forced on them. There are many well-layered themes of social justice, oppression and survival quietly weaved into the beautiful story. At first, I struggled a bit with the story, and I needed to quiet my mind to focus on the themes. Once I shut the noise in my head, I was consumed with the journey of these unforgettable women. My heart broke for them with vivid details of the conditions they lived under, and at times I had to look away and let my mind skim over it. It’s not all dark as there are themes of hope, friendship, motherhood, and loyalty.

The story explores social justice here for women, at a time in history when women were seen as “less than” and a society that was entitled to discriminate against indigenous people. We don’t see much of Matthina’s story, but she captured my heart and pulled at my heart strings with the way she was seen and treated.

The story takes a brave, bold, and sudden turn that left me thinking did that just happened, and I almost didn’t believe it did. I had to go back and reread it, and Christina Baker Kline shows us just how talented she is by pulling off that turn to the story.

It’s inspiring stories like this that remind us how strong women were at a time when they were grounded by men and a society that viewed them as lesser. They faced fear and survival not by looking away but by facing it head-on. It’s an empowering story that celebrates women’s strength, courage, and resilience that we can carry over today. I highly recommend it.

Lindsay’s review

This novel follows several brave and inspiring women on a journey that weaves their lives together in unexpected ways. It is a story about the strength, determination and endless drive found deep within a woman’s soul. It is a powerful depiction of how women hold each other up in this world.

Told through multiple perspectives, I was invested in every character from start to finish. I loved what each character brought to the storyline, each narrative added a deeper layer of intensity and detail which all brilliantly weaved together in unexpected ways. These characters will stay with me a long time.

The elegant and beautiful writing pulled me in completely. Many powerful sentences made me stop and think. This is one of those books that I so thoroughly enjoyed reading that I didn’t want it to end. I truly cherished and enjoyed the experience of reading every single word.

Orphan Train, by this author, is one of my favourite books and while this was not an intense as Orphan Train, it was equally impactful. It is a quiet but captivating story. Not gripping or suspenseful, but beautifully unique and unforgettable.

This novel has confirmed my love for this authors writing. I absolutely must read A Piece Of The World soon.

We received copies from the publisher on EW

8 thoughts on “The Exiles by Christina Baker Kline”

    1. Thank you, Corina! I am so glad to see you enjoyed both! Yes, she sure does! I am looking forward to reading A Piece Of The World.


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