BookBrowse Highlights

If you've read Orphan Train or A Piece of the World, you know Christina Baker Kline has a talent for making history come to life in her novels. Her latest, The Exiles, is set in late 19th-century Australia, where two young women arrive aboard a convict ship and a third is taken from her home under the pretense of being "civilized" by the British colonizers.

BookBrowse's Book Club is currently discussing this novel, and we're featuring our review in this week's Editor's Choice. Make sure to check out the Beyond the Book article about Matthinna, the real-life Aboriginal girl that inspired one of Kline's characters.

We also have a new Wordplay, a new Culture Corner and a link to the latest issue of The BookBrowse Review.

Very best,
Editor's Choice
The Exiles
by Christina Baker Kline

A young governess finds herself pregnant and in prison for theft and attempted murder. An Irish thief and herbalist finds her medical skills in high demand on a convict ship bound for Australia. A young Aboriginal girl is placed in the home of a British family where she is meant to become "civilized."

Kline uses the three points of view to highlight the drastically different treatment of the three women at the hands of the British government. Evangeline, despite being a convict and an unwed soon-to-be mother, is educated and formerly of the middle class, so while she is still treated as a prisoner, she is often given special attention and preferential treatment by those in charge. Hazel, a thief of no social standing, is seen as a true criminal and is often treated cruelly or abusively by others. But once she proves her knowledge and skills as a midwife, she begins to earn respect and trust. Mathinna, despite being the daughter of a former chieftain, is seen as a savage by the British settlers. She is intelligent and curious, but considered uncivilized because she is Aboriginal. ... continued
Book Club Discussion
"This is the best book I’ve read in 2020. I inhaled it in two days. I loved this great story built on historical facts. It was very informative about the British prisoners that were sent to Australia and so relevant to events that are going on today. I’ve read all of Ms. Kline's books and love her stories but The Exiles was the best yet!" - CandaceF

"I loved this book. I learned about a time period and people I knew nothing about. The book was written and paced in a way that kept my interest the entire time. I will be recommending it!" - LeslieH

"I loved the book very much, although it was often a bit agonizing to read. It makes me even more curious about the time period and the people who lived it, and I think that's what a good historical novel does. It makes us thirsty to know more facts." - Gloria

"It reads as historically accurate but didn't feel like nonfiction. I would love to visit some of the museums that are mentioned at the end. The characters were great and really came to life. Like pauj, I didn't know that women prisoners were sent to Australia as well. One funny note is that this is the fourth book I've read this year set in Tasmania, I think fate is telling me to go there!" - ColoradoGirl

"The action is non-stop and the story takes unpredictable turns. I have already recommended this book to several people; this is something I only do when a book is truly interesting. The characters are strong women; something I can appreciate at this time in this country." - Tired Bookreader
Discussions are open to all, so please do join us! See upcoming discussions.
Beyond the Book
The Treatment of Aboriginal Australians
In The Exiles, Christina Baker Kline tells the stories of three women caught up in the British colonization of Australia and the nearby islands (which today form the Commonwealth of Australia). One of these stories is that of a young Aboriginal girl named Mathinna. Although Kline has embellished on what is known about Mathinna's life to some degree, she was a real girl taken from her family to live with the governor of Tasmania John Franklin and his wife in the 1840s in the hopes that she could be "civilized." Tasmania is an island 150 miles south of mainland Australia about the size of West Virginia. It was called Van Diemen's Land at the time, after the governor-general of the Dutch East Indies Anthony van Diemen. Mathinna's forced adoption is just a fragment of the larger tragic picture of violence and abuse inflicted on the Aborigines by the British settlers. ... continued
Custom House. Historical Fiction. 384 pages. Published Aug 25, 2020
BookBrowse Rating: 5/5, Critics' Consensus: 4.7/5
Review and article by Jordan Lynch
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Culture Corner
Each week, we're sharing a few links to cultural experiences you can access from home during the pandemic, such as online concerts, theater and art.

This week we look at three of the most respected American playwrights of the 20th century: Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams and Eugene O'Neill and show you where you can watch performances and adaptations of their legendary work.
Solve our Wordplay puzzle to reveal a well-known expression, and be entered to win the book of your choice or a 6-month membership to BookBrowse.

"I I M B T Give T T R"
The answer to the last Wordplay: H F T Best, P F T W

"Hope for the best and prepare (or plan) for the worst"

Meaning: Be optimistic but also be prepared for all possibilities.

Around 46 BC, Cicero wrote to a friend saying, "you must hope for the best"; but the first known use of the full expression is in The Tragedie of Gorbuduc by Thomas Norton and Thomas Sackville (1561) which was performed by the Gentlemen of the Inner Temple before Queen Elizabeth I in 1562...
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