Publication Date: February 11 2014Blurb:
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 infamous 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 and cunning 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 lover 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.Guest post:
What happened after the Epilogue? An in-depth look at how life played out for Peggy and Benedict Arnold after their treason was unearthed and their lives were changed.
As hard as they tried, Peggy and Benedict Arnold never did achieve the wealth, fame or political power that they pursued so rabidly. In fact, their remaining years, following the failed plot to turn over West Point, were an ongoing quest for financial solvency and social acceptance.
After his service in the British Army during the Revolution, Benedict moved with his wife and children to England. They settled in London, where Arnold struggled to find employment. Peggy did realize her dream of meeting the royal family at Court, but the Arnolds did not find an otherwise warm reception into English society.
Frustrated and impoverished, Arnold relocated his family to New Brunswick, Canada, where he began a trading business. After several years of considerable monetary success, Arnold made enemies in this new British colony. He became entangled in a series of high-profile lawsuits and feuds, and was eventually forced to leave town and return to England.
Back in London, Arnold’s star continued to fall. The British Army was not interested in Arnold’s petitions to serve, and British society was not interested in the company of a couple of failed colonial traitors. Arnold famously challenged the Earl of Lauderdale to a pistol duel over criticisms the Earl had leveled against Arnold in the House of Lords.
By this point, Arnold’s battle wounds had led to painful gout, and he struggled to walk. Faced with a large family and mounting debts, Arnold bought a ship and once again endeavored to build a successful trading business. He pursued opportunities in the Caribbean and northern Canada, but never did find the success he sought.
Benedict Arnold died an impoverished and bitter man. In his final years he had suffered from gout, asthma, dropsy, and what his wife termed “a perturbed mind.” Legends surrounding the infamous traitor allege that, during his final moments, Arnold begged God to forgive him for having ever traded in his colonial uniform.
Peggy Shippen Arnold, left with her family’s debts and a “nervous disorder” that added to her own health woes, outlived her much older husband by only a few years. She died at the age of forty-four from cancer. The Arnolds were buried side-by-side in a lower-class neighborhood in London.
ALLISON PATAKI grew up in upstate New York, in the same neighborhood where Benedict and Peggy Arnold once lived. Allison attended Yale University, where she graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor's Degree in English. While at Yale, Allison received Distinction in the Major from the English department and served as a campus reporter and news anchor for the student-run campus television program, YTV News.
The daughter of former New York State Governor George E. Pataki, Allison was inspired to write The Traitor’s Wife: A Novel of Benedict Arnold and the Plan to Betray America based on the rich Revolutionary War history of her hometown in New York State’s Hudson Highlands.
Allison spent several years writing for television and digital news outlets prior to transitioning to fiction. The Traitor’s Wife: A Novel of Benedict Arnold and the Plan to Betray America is Allison’s first novel.
Allison lives in Chicago with her husband.
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