Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Traitor's Wife

The Traitor's Wife
Allison Pataki
Howard Books
Simon & Schuster
New York, New York
February 11, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-4767-3860-4
$ 14.99
497 pages

Benedict Arnold is a name that is synonymous with the term traitor for almost giving West Point to the British.  The American general definitely had some legitimate gripes with the leadership of the time.   What about his wife?   Did she have knowledge of the changing of loyalties?  Was she the cause of the change?

The Traitor's Wife by Allison Pataki focuses on Peggy Shippen, the much younger second wife of Benedict Arnold through the objective eyes of her fictional lady's maid, Clara.  

Clara was orphaned finding herself in need of a home and work when the Shippen family renewed an acquaintance which provided her both.   Clara was to assist both of the Shippen daughters but being that the older sister was less demanding and soon to be wed,  Peggy demanded the constant assistance of what would quickly become her own lady's maid.  

Peggy Shippen is known for her legendary charm and beauty.   During the start of this country, she was born to a family of wealth who had difficulty once the restrictions of British over the colonies.  She spent much of her time and talents developing friendships with the charming Redcoats, most notably Major John Andre.

In this historical fictional novel, Clara becomes a spy for the Loyalist while Peggy continues her friendships with the British while encouraging her husband to assist their cause with the hopes of a large reward from the Crown.  

The strength of The Traitor's Wife is outstanding regarding the setting.  Allison Pataki completely understands the time period and daily life through Clara.  From the realization of the constant cleaning of dresses that had been dragged on the ground, to the mending, along with the corsets and hair styles that were judged by their height along with the extra duties in the kitchen and to assist wherever there is a need with chores that were never finished, all perfectly capture the time period.

The codes and methods of communication on both sides of the conflict is enthralling.   Between the eavesdropping, the coded messages, and difficulty traveling distances and intercepted messages, Allison Pataki wonderfully escorts the reader through Clara.

The Traitor's Wife is the debut novel for Allison Pataki, daughter of former New York State Governor George E. Pataki.  Allison is a Yale graduate and resides in Chicago.

The Traitor's Wife brings to life these controversial figures into realistic history based on fact.

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