Author: Allison Pataki
Publisher: Howard Books
ISBN: 978-1-4767-3860-4

I see, as the men do, the panic, the bewilderment and despair of a woman who has just found out that her husband is a traitor. I see all that, but I see something they do not; I see that the pain she shows is nothing more than a mask. A painfully beautiful mask,” Clara notes in Allison Pataki’s novel, The Traitor’s Wife: The Novel.

At four hundred and ninety-six pages, this detailed paperback targets readers interested in historical fiction during America’s Revolutionary War, told from the viewpoint of the maid of Benedict Arnold and his wife, Peggy Shippen Arnold. With minor profanity, the tale of betrayal, spying, and wartime strategies is geared toward mature adults.

When seventeen year old Clara Bell gets a position at the home of the prominent Shippen family in Pennsylvania, her duties include assisting sisters Peggy and Betsy. However, Peggy quickly confiscates all of the young girl’s time, forcing her to dress and run errands for her which develops into a close but demanding relationship. 

Always at her side, Clara immediately notices her lady’s charm and cunning ways handling the opposite sex as she gets whatever she wants, especially when it involves the handsome British Major John Andre.

Yet when Peggy meets the older, injured Benedict Arnold who had confiscated Penn’s mansion when the Rebels pushed the British including Andre back to New York, she has a new suitor to lure and conquer. 

After marrying, Mrs. Arnold continues to seek material and societal advances, subversively planning and pushing her husband to power. Although she still thinks of her past love, she commits herself to her marriage when they move to West Point.

As the devoted Arnold rises in rank in Washington’s military, Peggy demands more wealth and accolades to the point that she begs her husband to contact Andre to get the respect and notoriety he deserves. While the married couple uses their maid for gain and assistance, Clara ponders her allegiance and loyalty involving the new nation and the attention of a stable boy. 

Written from the perspective of a lowly employee, Pataki’s first novel reminds Americans of the price paid to protect freedom by stepping out of one’s comfort zone to reveal the truth. Her research and writing style easily convince readers the possibility of a conniving, seducing woman behind America’s infamous traitor.

Thanks to Howard Books for furnishing this book in exchange for a review based on the reader’s opinions.

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