The Traitor’s Wife by Allison Pataki
Benedict Arnold’s wife Peggy is the titular wife and if you believe Pataki the force behind Arnold’s treasonous ways. Frankly, if I was married to her I would have asked for a post far, far away from her, but Arnold was from all accounts (fictitious and real) smitten with the lady.
The narrator is Clara Belle, ladies maid to Miss Peggy Shippen of Philadelphia, daughter of Judge Shippen a prominent and neutral party during the American Revolution. Peggy is not as neutral as her father. She revels in the galas and balls hosted by the British officers and is in love with one in particular, until the rebels are upon the city and he retreats with the rest of the British army and breaks her heart. But Peggy is not a girl to be kept down, or out of new gowns. She instantly finds a new man, the best of the lot of rebels, one General Arnold. The rest as they say is history.
Clara is a smart and resourceful young woman who grows into her post and becomes an accomplished and staunch revolutionary. Pataki takes a lot of liberties with the story (including the creation of Clara) but she points all truths and untruths out in the afterward. I’m glad she chose Clara as the narrator; a steady mind was needed because Peggy is truly a force to be reckoned with. Frankly, I felt a little bad for Benedict Arnold after reading this book both for his treatment by the revolutionary army (financially anyway) and for being married to Peggy.