As you know, I love reading historical fiction. But I really love reading about powerful women in history. I've read most of Phillipa Gregory's novels about King Henry VIII's various wives and the love and deceit that went on during his reign. I've also been reading many novels about World War 2 and have learned a lot about this time in American history. I'm sure I'll be writing some posts on these books as well.
During my recent trip to New York to visit family, my mother, also a historical fiction lover, mentioned that she had just finished reading “The Traitor's Wife” by Allison Pataki. Published in 2014, Pataki tells the story of Benedict Arnold and his wife, Peggy Shippen. Pataki was inspired to write the book based on the revolutionary war history in her home town area of New York state's Hudson Highlands.
Of course I learned about Benedict Arnold, a highly decorated Patriot general in school, but couldn't remember the particulars of his story and what drove him to betray his friend and superior officer, George Washington. I certainly never learned anything about his private life but was intrigued by the story, especially after watching the TV miniseries called “Turn.”
Pataki is a great writer and describes the sights, sounds, and smells of 17th century Philadelphia through the eyes of Peggy Shippen's maid, Clara. I was immediately drawn into this world and as I continued to read cared about the characters and wanted to learn more. Pataki definitely did her research and came up with a very plausible idea of how Arnold and Peggy's betrayal was actually discovered by the Patriots. Peggy, who came from a wealthy family and was used to having a maid serve her, never thought that Clara was smart enough to understand her conversations with her husband. Clara was the strong woman in the story and was finally able to stand up for her beliefs. Now, whether or not this is how it really happened is why I love historical fiction so much!
I hope I didn't give away too much of the story as there's a lot more to it than what I've described. But I do hope I've enticed your sense of learning to start reading “The Traitor's Wife