In 1840 on Flinder’s Island, Australia, we meet eight year old Mathinna, the daughter of the Palawa tribe’s deceased chief. British colonization has been destroying the native Aboriginal people. Mathinna is introduced to British Governor John Franklin and his wife. The couple is fascinated by the native child who is educated and not the savage they expected. They decide to bring her into their home, Government House. This is not an act of kindness but done to put her on display for their friends. In London, Evangeline, a young governess, is falsely convicted of a crime and sent to Newgate Prison and then on a grueling four-month journey to Diemen’s Land, a penal colony in Australia. (Present day Tasmania.) Pregnant and alone, she meets Hazel, a sixteen year old convicted of stealing a silver spoon.
Author Christina Baker Kline details the hardships faced by Evangeline, Hazel and Mathinna in such a rich, descriptive way that their stories will break your heart. These characters show strength and determination even while faced with inconceivable cruelty. They were each exiles, “torn from their homes and families.” The details in this well-researched book will send you off to learn more about this period in British and Australian history. In the author’s Acknowledgments, it is revealed that Mathinna actually existed and had lived with the Franklins as described. The author weaves true history and unforgettable, fictional women representative of this difficult time into one incredible book.
The Exiles is a must-read!
Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Publication Date: August 25, 2020.
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