Published by Simon and Schuster on February 11th 2014
Genres: Biographical, Fiction, General, Historical
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 co-conspirator, 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.
When studying the American Revolutionary War in history class, the names George Washington and Benedict Arnold are of the most recognizable. After so many history classes, the information was always the same names, details, dates, and so on. Not once have I heard a mention about Benedict Arnold’s wife or really anyone’s wives in length. Peggy Shippen Arnold was a partner in his treason, something I would have loved to discuss in history rather than just being told he was a traitor and that was that. There’s always a whole other story behind famous men’s lives and the choices that wives most likely shaped one way or another.
The portrayal of Peggy was of a very spoiled and also very cunning woman. She always had her way with men, in particular with Benedict Arnold and John Andre. Peggy was a woman that most women would not have really liked because usually women can see through each other’s charms (crap), I’ll put it that way. I don’t have anything to compare to this version of Peggy, but I would expect such a spoiled, pretentious attitude from a well-off woman of the time period.
When it comes to Benedict Arnold, I did feel something along the lines of pity. He got what he deserved because he was a traitor, but backstories usually give people good intentions. His good intentions were to provide the never satisfied Peggy the extravagant lifestyle she wanted more than anything, more than him.
I have to mention, although, the book was told in the perspective of a maid named Clara. I didn’t know the fact when I bought the book because the synopsis made no mention her, so I was surprised. This book was a long read, but I believe it was worth every minute.