The Exiles
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1. Talk about the reasons Evangeline is first sent to prison and then to the penal colony of Australia. How does her treatment reflect the stature of women in the 1840s—in what was then (along with France) the most civilized country in the world?

2. (Follow-up to Question 1) For fun, consider the disparity between the worlds of The Exiles and, say, Jane Austen's novels, which took place a couple of decades decades before the setting of this novel. Consider, also, that Austen, like Evangeline, was herself the daughter of a clergyman. Would her life have been as precarious as Evangeline's?

3. Describe the conditions—the hardships—Evangelina experienced both in Newgate Prison and on the months-long journey to Australia.

4. In light of the questions above, apply the same topics to Hazel, whom Evangeline meets on the ship. What is Hazel's background and the reason she is sent to Australia?

5. In an outward show of grace and charity, Lady Franklin has adopted Mathinna, a young Aboriginal girl. What is Lady Franklin's actual purpose in bringing Mathinna into her household? What are her true feelings toward Australia's indigenous peoples?

6. Considering the cruelty, hardships, and death in this novel, did you find sections difficult to read at times? If you made it through to the end, why did you persist? What drove you to overcome those painful parts to reach the novel's conclusion? And if you reached the end, was it satisfying?

7. All good historical fiction engages us with real history: it brings the past alive and puts it in the context of living (albeit fictional) human beings—and so we learn. What did you learn about the settlement of Australia that you hadn't known previously?


* Some questions from LitLovers.

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