Evangeline has recently lost her father and must make her way in the world by taking a job as a governess in London. Having been sheltered for many years by her father, her naivety is soon taken advantage of and a now pregnant Evangeline is sent to Newgate Prison and eventually exiled to the Van Diemen's Land, a penal colony in Australia. While traveling overseas on the repurposed slave ship Medea, Evangeline meets young Hazel, who is very shrewd and street smart. The two develop an unlikely bond and it is one that will change their lives forever.
We also have the opportunity to meet Mathinna, an Aboriginal orphan who is taken in by the Governor of Van Diemen's Land and his wife so that she might, essentially, become more like the rest of "polite society". Her perspective is so important to the novel and brings a unique quality to the narrative.
I very much enjoyed this novel for so many reasons. I felt it was fresh and unique. I was aware of some of the Australian history, but this novel caused me to examine what I knew in a new way and also introduced me to many things I was not aware of regarding that time period. I would definitely recommend this novel to historical fiction fans and I also believe it would make a wonderful book club selection.
I received this book courtesy of Custom House through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.