Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Traitor's Wife


Book Review

In elementary school I learned about Benedict Arnold. I remember at various times in my life hearing someone say, “Why you Benedict Arnold!” The infamous Arnold has become part of our cultural literacy. However, I have never heard anyone mention his wife, a popular Philadelphia socialite.
Allison Pataki has taken care of this matter. The Traitor’s Wife is a novel about Margaret (Peggy) Shippen Arnold. The story is written through the eyes of Clara, Peggy’s ladies’ maid. The book is 457 pages and covers several years during the Revolutionary War.
I felt that in the beginning the book moved rather slow. Reading about endless parties, beautiful gowns, and flirting did not hold my attention. As the book progressed, it became thought provoking. Even though I knew that Arnold was found out the story became exciting.
Pataki has wonderful, well-described characters and she has done a good job of portraying their personalities. Peggy who began the book as a thoughtless, self-centered girl developed into an evil, conniving woman with absolutely no morals. Through Clara’s eyes the reader watches her become a frightening villain. Oddly, I found myself feeling sorry for Benedict. Realizing the book is historical fiction; I felt that without Peggy he never would have turned traitorous. The Arnold’s servants formed a wonderful, caring family and Clara, an orphan, found a home with them. The story was also Clara’s love story.
The story showcased a fascinating time in American history. It also showed the complete depravation of a soul. It depicted Benedict Arnold as an excellent but flawed general who allowed bitterness to take over his life. It showed the tenacity of the servants and their ability to make life bearable in the worst circumstances through caring about each other.
This book has much to like. It fleshes out a well-known period in American history.  It is an in-depth study of the human experience. And even though it is common knowledge that Benedict Arnold was not successful the story became riveting. I highly recommend this book.
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Book

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 André, 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 André. 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.

About the Author

Allison Pataki graduated Cum Laude from Yale University and has spent several years writing for TV and online news outlets, including ABCNews.com and FoxNews.com. The daughter of former New York State Governor George E. Pataki, Allison was inspired to write The Traitor’s Wife based on the rich Revolutionary War history of her hometown in New York State’s Hudson Highlands. The Traitor’s Wife is Allison’s first novel. She lives in Chicago with her husband, David.

1 comment:

STEVEN DOWNHAM CANTOR FITZGERALD AND FREEMASONRY said...

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