The Traitor's Wife by Allison Pataki ~ A Historical Fiction Book Review

Historical Fiction

About the book:

A riveting historical novel about Peggy Shippen Arnold, the cunning wife of Benedict Arnold and mastermind behind America’s most infamous act of treason . . .

Everyone knows Benedict Arnold—the Revolutionary War general who betrayed America and fled to the British—as history’s most notorious turncoat. Many know Arnold’s co-conspirator, Major John AndrĂ©, who was apprehended with Arnold’s documents in his boots and hanged at the orders of General George Washington. But few know of the integral third character in the plot: a charming young woman who not only contributed to the betrayal but orchestrated it.

Socialite Peggy Shippen is half Benedict Arnold’s age when she seduces the war hero during his stint as military commander of Philadelphia. Blinded by his young bride’s beauty and wit, Arnold does not realize that she harbors a secret: loyalty to the British. Nor does he know that she hides a past romance with the handsome British spy John AndrĂ©. Peggy watches as her husband, crippled from battle wounds and in debt from years of service to the colonies, grows ever more disillusioned with his hero, Washington, and the American cause. Together with her former love and her disaffected husband, Peggy hatches the plot to deliver West Point to the British and, in exchange, win fame and fortune for herself and Arnold.

Told from the perspective of Peggy’s maid, whose faith in the new nation inspires her to intervene in her mistress’s affairs even when it could cost her everything, The Traitor’s Wife brings these infamous figures to life, illuminating the sordid details and the love triangle that nearly destroyed the American fight for freedom.

My thoughts: 

I am completely amazed that this is a first novel for Allison Pataki. She has taken a well known story and fleshed it out into an even more intriguing tale than we have all read about in our history textbooks.

When I think of Benedict Arnold it is often hard to fathom how he could be such a decorated war hero but in the end wind up being such a traitor to the country he fought so hard to defend. In The Traitor's Wife some of that mystery is revealed. Through the eyes of Clara, the trusted maid to Mrs. Peggy Arnold, we see just how much power a beloved wife can have over her husband.

Peggy is a very complex woman. On the outside she is very beautiful and alluring and knows exactly how to turn a head. On the inside she is scheming and deceitful and always plotting how to come out on top. The name Benedict Arnold may be synonymous with traitor, but the name of Peggy Arnold should hold equal weight.

For all lovers of historical fiction, this book is going to be a great delight. It is my hope that Ms. Pataki will continue to use her incredible talent to bring to light many more of our history's infamous characters and those that worked right along side them.

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