It would be shocking if anyone in America had never heard of Benedict Arnold – especially anyone in our region where he lived and participated in critical historical events. Yet, not many will have heard of his wife or considered her role in those events. Watch the video below to see a trailer for an upcoming novel that considers that very issue: Allison Pataki’s The Traitor’s Wife.
Who was Peggy Shippen Arnold? How must she have felt about [the] infamous events that unraveled around her? And what role, if any, did she play in this mesmeric plot?
I could not wait to dig deeper into these historical questions, and as I did so, I uncovered a tale and a cast of characters that proved truly Shakespearean in its scope and drama. Peggy Arnold is a confounding character – charming yet dangerous, loyal yet duplicitous, cunning yet reckless.
Writing this novel was an adventure that allowed me to investigate the story of America’s heroes and traitors; moments of triumph and moments of near disaster; stories of love and stories of lust. As I traveled from Philadelphia to West Point, from the back rooms of libraries into the Colonial exhibits of museums, all the while retracing the steps of one of history’s most salacious would-be power couples, I uncovered what I had always known to be true: that often times, real life proves even more interesting than fiction. ~Allison Pataki
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 Pataki family has long had a home in Essex, NY. She currently lives in Chicago with her husband, David.
Synopsis of 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 coconspirator, 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.
- Author Allison Pataki Discusses ‘The Traitor’s Wife’ (on.aol.com)
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