[Review] The Exiles by Christina Baker Kline

Publisher and Publication Date: Custom House, HarperCollins Publishers. July 6, 2021. First published August 2020.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: 361.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Self-purchase at Target.
Audience: Readers of historical fiction, stories of women.
Rating: Good.

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Link @ Barnes and Noble.

Website for Christina Baker Kline. Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Goodreads.


The Exiles is the story of three females who are exiled from their home. When the story begins only one of the females is a young woman, the other two are young girls. Two of them are convicted, imprisoned, and sentenced. They are sent by ship to Van Diemen’s Land which was the original name for Tasmania. The three of them come together in support of each other as their lives intersect.
Their names are Mathinna, Hazel, and Evangeline.
The time period begins in 1840.

My Thoughts:

There are things I like about the book and things I dislike.

What I like about the book:

1. I like the unique personalities and backgrounds of the three females. Each of them are different ages. Evangeline is in her early 20s and from England. Hazel is a teen and from Scotland. Mathinna is a young girl and is from an Aboriginal tribe.
2. The story shows me the prejudice and abuse of the Aboriginal people that the British inflicted upon them.
3. The story taught me how female convicts were treated in the prison, aboard the convict ship; and once they reached the destination-their living conditions, rules, and jobs.
4. While in London I felt engaged into the story immediately because all of the senses are apart of the storytelling.
5. I love the transformation in age and maturity of each of the female lead characters.
6. I see a sweetness and tenderness of those outside the prison system; and I see those who were selfishly bent on their own agendas.
7. I learned how the female convicts cope with their lives. Some took pleasure and comfort when offered. Some turned away from these relationships and became introspective.
8. A fulfilling closure.

What I do not like about the story:

1. One of the females took a lead part in narrating for the first half. I felt a huge investment in her outcome. I felt such a huge let down when she died mid-way through the book! I laid the book down for several days because I didn’t care to read about the other two females. It is not that I dislike them, but felt annoyed that the main character was dead! For me, that was the end of the book. I later picked back up with the book and finished.
2. Mathinna needs her own book. A book about her whole life. I read snippets (it felt like) in the story. Towards the end there is a perspective through Hazel’s eyes about Mathinna which left me in tears.
3. I’d love to read more about the geography and culture of Tasmania. I’d like vivid descriptions of the landscape. I’d like to envision where and how they lived with more description.

Final Thought:

I feel Kline tried to represent women (most-broad range) in The Exiles. All those women who were transported and relocated to a new world. I’m glad Kline gave one of them a satisfying life.

Themes in the story: Death and dying, courage, compassion, loyalty, obsession, power of love, bravery, acceptance, wisdom, trust, charity, injustice, justice, empowerment, grief, good and evil, innocence, suffering, survival, and greed.


2 thoughts on “[Review] The Exiles by Christina Baker Kline

  1. Great review, enjoyed reading your thoughts. I have been curious about this book for quite some time and am glad you reviewed it. I will also definitely find information about the abuse perpetrated on the Aboriginal people eye-opening and informative and wanted to pick up this book for that too. I can’t believe the author killed off one of her main characters, too. I dislike when that happens in books because I also become emotionally involved in main characters. It’s like Hitchcock’s Psycho, isn’t it? No one really expected the main lead to die at the beginning or half way through, or I read de Queiroz’s The Crime of Father Amaro, thinking that we follow our heroic and positive main character, when it turned out he was a “bad” one all along.

    Liked by 1 person

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