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Christina Baker Kline books in order

Christina Baker Kline is a #1 New York Times bestselling author of historical fiction, women’s fiction and contemporary fiction novels, most notably The Exiles (2020), Orphan Train (2013) and A Piece of the World (2017).

Born in Cambridge, England, and raised in both England and the U.S, Kline holds a B.A from Yale, an M.A from Cambridge, and an M.F.A from the University of Virginia, where she was a Hoyns Fellow in Fiction Writing.

She has taught writing, both fiction and nonfiction, poetry, English literature, literary theory, and women’s studies at Yale, NYU, and the University of Virginia.

Kline also served as Writer-in-Residence at Fordham University for four years.

A recipient of numerous accolades, including the New England Prize for Fiction, the Maine Literary Award, and a Barnes & Noble Discover Award, Kline’s books have been published in 40 countries.

Her articles on the other hand have appeared in publications such as the New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The San Francisco Chronicle, LitHub, Psychology Today, among others.

A mother to three boys, Kline currently lives with her husband, David, in New York City and Southwest Harbor, Maine.

More about Christina Baker Kline

Genre: Historical Fiction

Born: 1958

United States


Non Series

  • Sweet Water (1993)
  • Desire Lines (1998)
  • The Way Life Should Be (2007)
  • Bird in Hand (2009)
  • Orphan Train (2013)
  • A Piece of the World (2017)
  • The Exiles (2020)


  1. Conversation Begins: Mothers and Daughters Talk About Living Feminism (1996)
  2. Child of Mine: Original Essays on Becoming a Mother (1997)
  3. Room to Grow (1999)
  4. About Face (2008)

Detailed book overview

Non Series

Sweet Water

Cassie Simon is a struggling artist living in New York City. When she receives a call from a magistrate in Sweetwater, TN, telling her she has inherited sixty acres of land from her grandfather, whom she never knew, she takes it as a sign: it’s time for a change. She moves into the house where her mother, Ellen, was born—and where she died tragically when Cassie was three.

From the moment she arrives in Sweetwater, Cassie is overwhelmed by the indelible mark her mother’s memory had left behind. As she delves into the thicket of mystery that surrounds her mother’s death, Cassie begins to understand the desperate measures the human heart is capable of.

Author: Christina Baker Kline
First Release: 1993
ISBN: 978-0062361004
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Desire Lines

On the night of her high school graduation, Kathryn Campbell sits around a bonfire with her four closest friends, including the beautiful but erratic Jennifer. “I’ll be fine,” Jennifer says, as she walks away from the dying embers and towards the darkness of the woods. She never came back.

Ten years after Jennifer’s unexplained disappearance, Kathryn is a grad-school dropout living in Virginia, stuck in a dead-end writing job and marriage. She has few close friends; most people have learned not to depend on her. When she decides to leave her husband, she ships her boxes to her mother’s house in Bangor, Maine. She has nowhere else to go.

When Kathryn returns home, her former classmates are preparing for their ten-year reunion. Old questions about graduation night surface. Jennifer begins to dominate Kathryn’s life, just as she did in high school. Enigmatic and troubled, Jennifer had always depended on Kathryn’s devotion and asked for sacrifices. A decade after Jennifer walked into the woods alone, Kathryn decides that she must follow her friend’s lead, one last time.

Involving herself in the daily rhythms of small-town life, Kathryn begins an investigation into her past. She renews contacts with old friends and teachers, using her skills as a journalist to reconstruct the life that she and Jennifer shared. Kathryn knows that she must examine what she knew about her friend, and what she didn’t. She must decide what she is willing to risk to know the truth. She must decide what her own future is worth. With nothing left to lose, she is determined to answer one simple question: What ever happened to Jennifer Pelletier?

Author: Christina Baker Kline
First Release: 1998
ISBN: 978-0060566944
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
The Way Life Should Be

Angela can feel the clock ticking. She is single in New York City, stuck in a job she doesn’t want and a life that seems to have, somehow, just happened. She inherited a flair for Italian cooking from her grandmother, but she never seems to have the time for it—these days, her oven holds only sweaters.

Tacked to her office bulletin board is a photo from a magazine of a tidy cottage on the coast of Maine—a charming reminder of a life that could be hers, if she could only muster the courage to go after it.

On a hope and a chance, Angela decides to pack it all up and move to Maine, finding the nudge she needs in the dating profile of a handsome sailor who loves dogs and Italian food. But her new home isn’t quite matching up with the fantasy.

Far from everything familiar, Angela begins to rebuild her life from the ground up. Working at a local coffeehouse, she begins to discover the pleasures and secrets of her new small-town community and, in the process, realizes there’s really no such thing as the way life should be.

Author: Christina Baker Kline
First Release: 2007
ISBN: 978-0062363541
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Bird in Hand

Four people, two marriages, one lifelong friendship: Everything is about to change.

It was dark. It was raining. It was just an accident. On the drive home from a rare evening out, Alison collides with another car running a stop sign, and—just like that—her life turns upside down.

When she calls her husband, Charlie, from the police station, his accusatory tone reveals cracks in their relationship she’d never noticed were there. Now she notices everything. And she begins to realize that the life she carefully constructed for herself is as tenuous as a house of cards.

The only thing Charlie can focus on these days is his secret, sudden affair with Claire, Alison’s best friend. Bold where Alison is reserved, vibrant where Alison is cautious, Claire has just had her first novel published, a thinly veiled retelling of her childhood in North Carolina. But even in the whirlwind of publication, Claire can’t stop wondering if she should leave her husband, Ben, an ambitious architect who is brilliant, kind, and meticulous. And who wants nothing more than a baby, or two—exactly the kind of life that Charlie and Alison seem to have.

As they set out on their individual journeys, Alison, Charlie, Claire, and Ben explore the idea—each in his or her own way—that every moment of loss contains within it the possibility of a new life. Alternating through these four intertwined perspectives, Bird in Hand is an exquisitely written, powerful, and thrilling novel about love, friendship and betrayal, and about the secrets we tell ourselves and each other.

Author: Christina Baker Kline
First Release: 2009
ISBN: 978-0062363992
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Orphan Train

Moving between contemporary Maine and Depression-era Minnesota, Orphan Train is a powerful novel of upheaval and resilience, of second chances, and unexpected friendship.

Between 1854 and 1929, so-called orphan trains ran regularly from the cities of the East Coast to the farmlands of the Midwest, carrying thousands of abandoned children whose fates would be determined by pure luck. Would they be adopted by a kind and loving family, or would they face a childhood and adolescence of hard labor and servitude?

As a young Irish immigrant, Vivian Daly was one such child, sent by rail from New York City to an uncertain future a world away. Returning east later in life, Vivian leads a quiet, peaceful existence on the coast of Maine, the memories of her upbringing rendered a hazy blur. But in her attic, hidden in trunks, are vestiges of a turbulent past.

Seventeen-year-old Molly Ayer knows that a community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping her out of juvenile hall. But as Molly helps Vivian sort through her keepsakes and possessions, she discovers that she and Vivian aren't as different as they appear.

A Penobscot Indian who has spent her youth in and out of foster homes, Molly is also an outsider being raised by strangers, and she, too, has unanswered questions about the past.

NB: This book is also known as Orphan Train Girl.

Author: Christina Baker Kline
First Release: 2013
ISBN: 978-0061950728
Publisher: William Morrow
A Piece of the World

"Later he told me that he’d been afraid to show me the painting. He thought I wouldn’t like the way he portrayed me: dragging myself across the field, fingers clutching dirt, my legs twisted behind. The arid moonscape of wheatgrass and timothy. That dilapidated house in the distance, looming up like a secret that won’t stay hidden."

To Christina Olson, the entire world is her family farm in the small coastal town of Cushing, Maine. The only daughter in a family of sons, Christina is tied to her home by health and circumstance, and seems destined for a small life. Instead, she becomes Andrew Wyeth’s first great inspiration, and the subject of one of the best-known paintings of the twentieth century, Christina’s World.

As she did in her beloved bestseller Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline interweaves fact and fiction to vividly reimagine a real moment in history. A Piece of the World is a powerful story of the flesh-and-blood woman behind the portrait, her complicated relationship to her family and inheritance

Author: Christina Baker Kline
First Release: 2017
ISBN: 978-0062356277
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
The Exiles

Seduced by her employer’s son, Evangeline, a naïve young governess in early nineteenth-century London, is discharged when her pregnancy is discovered and sent to the notorious Newgate Prison. After months in the fetid, overcrowded jail, she learns she is sentenced to “the land beyond the seas,” Van Diemen’s Land, a penal colony in Australia. Though uncertain of what awaits, Evangeline knows one thing: the child she carries will be born on the months-long voyage to this distant land.

During the journey on a repurposed slave ship, the Medea, Evangeline strikes up a friendship with Hazel, a girl little older than her former pupils who was sentenced to seven years transport for stealing a silver spoon. Canny where Evangeline is guileless, Hazel—a skilled midwife and herbalist—is soon offering home remedies to both prisoners and sailors in return for a variety of favors.

Though Australia has been home to Aboriginal people for more than 50,000 years, the British government in the 1840s considers its fledgling colony uninhabited and unsettled, and views the natives as an unpleasant nuisance. By the time the Medea arrives, many of them have been forcibly relocated, their land seized by white colonists. One of these relocated people is Mathinna, the orphaned daughter of the Chief of the Lowreenne tribe, who has been adopted by the new governor of Van Diemen’s Land.

Author: Christina Baker Kline
First Release: 2020
ISBN: 978-0062356338
Publisher: Custom House


Conversation Begins: Mothers and Daughters Talk About Living Feminism

The first book to take an honest, in-depth look at the difficulties and rewards of being a feminist mother and to ask prominent feminist daughters whether their mother's vision was successfully or unsuccessfully transmitted to them while growing up.

Sisterhood, not motherhood, has been the focus of American feminism for the past twenty-five years. In fact, during the 70s many feminists viewed motherhood as a hindrance to women's progress toward equality, an attitude that alienated legions of potentially feminist women by ignoring--even disparaging--the needs and concerns of those who were mothers.

Nevertheless, many of those women had daughters who now have come of age and are reshaping the women's movement to suit their needs. The passing of the torch has not been entirely smooth, however. As young women define an agenda of their own, they also find themselves having to assess the legacy of their foremothers--for better and for worse.

NB: Co-authored with Christina Looper Baker.

Author: Christina Baker Kline
First Release: 1996
ISBN: 978-0553375244
Publisher: Bantam
Child of Mine: Original Essays on Becoming a Mother

Child of Mine is a book of original essays that reveal the many faces of motherhood, and which explore the amazing variety of feelings and changes that women go through in the first year of maternity.

The essays--by writers including Susan Cheever, Mona Simpson, Sarah Bird, Naomi Wolf, Meg Wolitzer, and many more--address a wide range of concerns, from changes in your marriage to delivery experiences to body image, to the mother/child bond, to ambivalence about breastfeeding.

We see an African-American mother who's conflicted about hiring a Jamaican baby-sitter; we see an urban working mom who's delighted to be back to her job after maternity leave; we see a mother's nightmare journey through a year of her son's colic. And we see the adoption experience with all its ups and downs.

Covering an amazing breadth of experience, readers will recognize themselves as they discover that other mothers have felt the same emotions, cried the same tears, thrilled to similar milestones, and suffered the same indignities and heartaches in that challenging first year of motherhood.

Author: Christina Baker Kline
First Release: 1997
ISBN: 978-0385333023
Publisher: Delta
Room to Grow

A collection of essays by twenty-two writers.

Candid, reflective, and intimate essays that capture the essence of parenting. Harnessing the writing skill of a score of top contemporary writers, Christina Baker Kline has crafted an outstanding collection that touches the core of modern parenthood. 

The writers share their experiences as parents of children between the ages of two and ten-the period when our children are young and wholly dependent, before they have established separate identities. Each of these entertaining and evocative essays focuses on one central issue about raising young children:

the complexities of being a stay-at-home dad

the urge to avoid making the same mistakes our parents did

birth order and sibling rivalry

giving our children a sense of racial identity.

Room to Grow is a kaleidoscope of the early years of childhood, revealing new patterns and yielding insights at each turn. A remarkable exploration of the parenting experience, Room to Grow eloquently discloses those priceless moments of joy and heartache, closeness and separation, wonder and exasperation, amazement and exhaustion that parents encounter every day with their young children.

Author: Christina Baker Kline
First Release: 1999
ISBN: 978-0312263843
Publisher: Golden Guides from St. Martin's Press
About Face

Distinctive and unique, facial appearance is hugely important in every encounter we will ever have. From the concept of beauty to the social ill of discrimination, the importance of the face in our interpersonal interactions is certainly known. But have you ever thought about the role your face plays in your day-to-day life, or the way your face may have determined the outcome of an incident from your past?

In About Face, twenty-five writers tackle this question, each using the same simple framework of an opening paragraph that objectively considers what they see when they look in the mirror. Each writer then details an experience that transpired, in one way or another, because of the face they live with: a feature that belies a woman's heritage, a scar that serves as a daily reminder of a childhood tragedy, an unwanted change due to sun exposure or smoking or drinking.

Since we live our entire lives behind our faces, About Face presents a challenge: to consider exploring our experiences from a vantage point we simply don't have access to. This collection uncovers surprising outcomes and truly unique observations about internal experiences as witnessed from the writers' external points of view.

Author: Christina Baker Kline
First Release: 2008
ISBN: 978-1580052467
Publisher: Seal Press