This review is from: The Traitor's Wife: A Novel (Paperback)
History has always been a passion of mine. The stories I read growing up and historical sites I've visited in my hometown area alone will never let go of me. From tales of the first settlers of the area, visits from George Washington, and even ghostly stories of the local Quaker cemetery, the area in which I live has a rich and rather thrilling past. Fort Necessity, For Pitt, and other major sites that were crucial in the early days of our country are just a short drive away, so it was almost impossible to not grow up with a love of history in my heart.
When I first read about The Traitor's Wife, Allison Pataki's debut novel a few months ago, my interest was piqued to say the least! My favorite stories as a teenager were those featuring real historical figures, like Ann Rinaldi's Finishing Becca which also featured Peggy Shippen, so I thought I'd give this more "grown up" version of the life of Peggy Shippen a try. I was not disappointed at all, in fact I'll go so far as to say it will be one of my favorite books of the year!
The Traitor's Wife, is historical fiction, so while based on true events and characters from history, the author has taken a lot of creative license. Still, Allison Pataki has deftly woven the lives of historical figures with those from her own imagination, including our heroine, Clara Bell in a way that flows together smoothly and is thoroughly entertaining. While Clara Bell is demure and shy her mistress, Miss Shippen is anything but. She's volatile and unlikable around family, while maintaining the completely charming and easy going facade amid society. Apart from being wife to Benedict Arnold, traitor to a nation, she is absolutely fascinating and Pataki has written her to be just that. I found myself more interested in her story than I was of Clara's. Don't get me wrong, Clara is brilliantly written, but she just didn't have the charisma of Peggy.
As for the other secondary characters, both fictional and historical, they added to the complexity and richness of the story. Benedict Arnold as you might suspect was brash and bold and no-nonsense, but when it came to Peggy he definitely had a soft spot. The stable boy Cal, the Quigley's and other servants in the Shippen household and later the Arnold household each added their own dynamic and offered a small peek into "downstairs" life. In the midst of a story that I thought was going to be all about Peggy Shippen and Benedict Arnold, I was pleasantly surprised by the "realness" of the secondary fictional characters.
The Traitor's Wife is a must read for any fan of the Revolution and the life of Peggy Shippen. Although published under Simon and Schuster's Christian imprint, Howard Books it is in no way Christian fiction. Even if you normally shy away from Christian fiction, don't hesitate to pick this one up. You don't want to miss out on this delicious read! For a debut novelist, Allison Pataki is an expert at the craft of story-telling!
*I receive complimentary books for review from the publisher. I am not required to write positive reviews. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.*