The Traitor’s Wife

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

by Allison Pataki

Behind the Scenes

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Several years ago, while walking my dogs in the woods of upstate New York, I came across a faded, nondescript historical marker. Always up for an impromptu history lesson, I paused to read the brief blurb about the trail, known as ‘Arnold’s Flight’.

A few paragraphs told me what locals to the area already knew: that I was walking the same trail traversed by General Benedict Arnold, centuries earlier, when he fled from George Washington to the British warship, HMS Vulture. Most American school children grow up learning the history of this notorious traitor and his co-conspirator, and I had grown up knowing that I lived across the street from where Arnold and his family had once lived.

What I did not know, however, was whose face belonged to the portrait of the beautiful young woman beside Benedict Arnold. I stared at the image of the fine-featured woman, her hair piled high atop her head, a quizzical smile on her face. Peggy Shippen Arnold was described as a devoted wife, loving mother, and popular socialite who, with suspected fealty to the English crown, might have incited Benedict Arnold to his infamous treachery. As I continued my walk on that cold, clear morning, I could not stop thinking about this figure, largely obscured in history’s forward march. Who was Peggy Shippen Arnold? How must she have felt about these 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 backrooms 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

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Author Allison Pataki discusses The Traitor’s Wife

Praise for The Traitor's Wife

“Pataki smoothly weaves intrigue and personality with critical historical facts…Historical fiction lovers will look forward to more from this promising new novelist.” – Publisher’s Weekly “A well-balanced narrative…offers fresh perspective, plenty of intrigue and a host of interesting, multidimensional characters.” – Kirkus (starred review) “If you read one book this year, make it Allison Pataki’s The Traitor’s Wife. Few authors have taken on America’s Revolutionary War so convincingly, and this story of Benedict Arnold’s wife will appeal to lovers of historical fiction everywhere. Highly, highly recommended!” – Michelle Moran, international bestselling author of Madame Tussaud “Allison Pataki’s captivating debut novel examines history’s most famous tale of treachery through a woman’s eyes. Meticulously written and well-researched, this story will transport you back to the American Revolution and keep you turning pages with both its intrigue and love story. The Traitor’s Wife is a well-told tale.” – Lee Woodruff, author, blogger and television personality
“I consider this to be the debut of a major writer of historical fiction.” – Mary Higgins Clark “This is a gem. We have certainly heard of Benedict Arnold but it was fun meeting his very cunning wife.” – Feathered Quill Book ReviewsThe Traitor’s Wife is a gripping novel steeped in compelling historical detail. Pataki writes lyrically and succeeds in bringing to life, and humanizing, notorious characters from our nation’s past. Ultimately a story about honor and heart, readers will have a hard time putting this book down.” – Aidan Donnelley Rowley, author of Life After Yes “Allison Pataki has given us a great gift: a powerful story of love and betrayal, drawn straight from the swiftly beating heart of the American Revolution. Replete with compelling characters, richly realized settings, a sweeping plot, and a heroine who comes to feel like a dear, familiar friend, The Traitor’s Wife is sure to delight readers of romance and lovers of history alike.” – Karen Halvorsen Schreck, author of Sing For Me