Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse

Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse
Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse ~ Photo: Mark Papke

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Traitor's Wife


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.

Author ~ Allison Pataki


Allison Pataki is the author of the New York Times bestselling historical novel, The Traitor’s Wife. Allison and the book have been featured on The TODAY Show, Fox & Friends, Morning Joe, and elsewhere. The daughter of former New York State Governor George E. Pataki, Allison was inspired to write The Traitor’s Wife based on the rich Revolutionary War history of her hometown in New York State’s Hudson Highlands. 

Allison graduated Cum Laude from Yale University with a major in English and spent several years writing for TV and online news outlets. Allison is currently working on her second novel, The Accidental Empress, a historical novel inspired by the life of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, to be published in February 2015. Allison is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post and, as well as a member of The Historical Novel Society. Allison lives in Chicago with her husband. To learn more and connect with Allison visit:

A riveting historical novel about Peggy Shippen Arnold, the cunning wife of Benedict Arnold and mastermind behind America’s most infamous act of treason...

"One of the BEST best historical novels...I was riveted. I couldn't put it down." Kathie Lee Gifford, The TODAY Show

"A most promising debut novel." Philippa Gregory, #1 NY Times Bestselling author of The Other Boleyn Girl

“Pataki smoothly weaves intrigue and personality with critical historical facts...Historical fiction lovers will look forward to more from this promising new novelist.” (Publisher's Weekly)

“A well-balanced narrative... events offers fresh perspective, plenty of intrigue and a host of interesting, multidimensional characters.” Kirkus (starred review)

“If you read one book this year, make it Allison Pataki's THE TRAITOR'S WIFE. Few authors have taken on America's Revolutionary War so convincingly, and this story of Benedict Arnold's wife will appeal to lovers of historical fiction everywhere. Highly, highly recommended!” (Michelle Moran, international bestselling author of Madame Tussaud)

“Allison Pataki's captivating debut novel examines history’s most famous tale of treachery through a woman's eyes. Meticulously written and well-researched, this story will transport you back to the American Revolution and keep you turning pages with both its intrigue and love story. The Traitor's Wife is a well-told tale.”(Lee Woodruff, author, blogger and television personality)

“I consider this to be the debut of a major writer of historical fiction.” (Mary Higgins Clark)

The Traitor's Wife is a gripping novel steeped in compelling historical detail. Pataki writes lyrically and succeeds in bringing to life, and humanizing, notorious characters from our nation's past. Ultimately a story about honor and heart, readers will have a hard time putting this book down.”
(Aidan Donnelley Rowley, author of Life After Yes)

“Allison Pataki has given us a great gift: a powerful story of love and betrayal, drawn straight from the swiftly beating heart of the American Revolution. Replete with compelling characters, richly realized settings, a sweeping plot, and a heroine who comes to feel like a dear, familiar friend, The Traitor's Wife is sure to delight readers of romance and lovers of history alike.”
(Karen Halvorsen Schreck, author of Sing For Me) 

Questions and Answers with Author Allison Pataki

1.   What gave you the inspiration to write this book?

A couple of years ago I was walking the dogs with my mother in upstate New York, right across the river from West Point. We paused to read a historical marker, which described “Arnold’s Flight,” the walking trail we hiked. The marker described the three main characters of Benedict Arnold’s conspiracy to sell West Point.

I knew Benedict Arnold, the notorious American turncoat. I knew John Andre, the British spy with whom Arnold had conspired.

What I had not known, however, was whose face belonged to the portrait of the beautiful young woman beside Benedict Arnold.  Her name was Peggy Shippen Arnold. I read how Peggy was courted first by John Andre before she married the colonial hero, Benedict Arnold. She was a loyalist to the British cause. As such, she was the central figure in orchestrating her husband’s treason. Reading this, I thought to myself: how did I not know this? It was pretty juicy stuff!

As I continued my walk, I could not stop thinking about Peggy Shippen Arnold, and I could not wait to learn more about the role she had played in this well known treason. Once I began the research, and continued to uncover the salacious details of the whole plot, the idea for the novel took off.

2.   Who is your favorite character in the book?

It is tough to pick one!

Peggy was definitely a really fun character to write. She is so beguiling and charming and moody and deceptive. I hope the reader will be simultaneously seduced by and then disgusted with her.

Cal was another fun character to write. He, like Clara, has a guilelessness about him. An optimist, Cal believes in the cause of American freedom, even if he is a bit naïve at times.

3.  Which came first, the title or the novel? 

The novel, absolutely. I knew that the plot would revolve around Peggy Shippen Arnold from the first day.

Everyone knows Benedict Arnold’s name, and to call someone a “Benedict Arnold” is to call someone a traitor. I wanted this to be about the woman who stood by his side when he became a traitor. By his side, or, you might even say, out front!

4.    What scene in the book do you feel is most successful and why?

Probably the opening scene, when George Washington’s rider approaches the Arnold house. Washington is on his way! Further down the Hudson River, the treason is being uncovered, and yet, Peggy and Benedict Arnold are convinced that they have succeeded in their plot.

That is, until the second rider approaches. From this messenger, the Arnolds learn that their plan has been unearthed. And yet, Washington is still on his way! Chaos ensues.

I like that the novel begins with immediate tension and disaster. The rest of the novel then goes back and works up until this very moment, this fateful and disastrous morning.

5.   Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a writer from then to now?

How much more goes into publishing a book than just having an idea and writing it down.

You start with the idea and the research. Then there is the writing of the book, yes. But then there are the edits, and the rewrites, and more edits and more rewrites. Then there is the process of selling the book to a publisher. After all, a manuscript does not become a book until someone in a position of power says so.

Then there are many more edits and rewrites…

After all of that, you have to package and brand this emerging book. You develop the related content, and the book cover design, and you create a platform to try to position this book in the market and to reach readers.

It’s been a wild and fun process, and it has made me so appreciative of all of the people who have helped me and guided me along the way.

6.   What do you like most about the cover of the book?

I love everything about the cover of book! I love Peggy’s dress. I love that she holds a cryptic letter behind her back. I love that her expression is cloudy and she is sort of difficult to see. I love the tattered colonial flag waving in the background.

Probably my favorite detail, however, is the Hudson River backdrop. That’s the view I call home! You can see the hint of where West Point stands on the distant hill. That fort was the crowned jewel around which all of the treason and betrayal and drama in The Traitor’s Wife swirled!

7.    What’s up next for you?

More historical fiction! I thought, while writing The Traitor’s Wife, that I would never enjoy writing another book this much, ever again. But I was surprised. I found another topic that, to me, is equally fascinating and fun, and that is the inspiration for my next book, The Accidental Empress. It's the story of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, the last great Habsburg queen, and it will be published this February 2015!

Like The Traitor’s Wife, it is the story of a captivating woman who had a front-row seat to the events of her time. Though Elisabeth's ('Sisi' was her nickname) time period is well known, her life and her role in history have been largely forgotten.

To find out more about Allison's book and her upcoming stories  go to:

Included with a copy of The Traitor's Wife is a red-white-and-blue themed Fourth of July gift basket giveaway worth over 100.00 which includes a 15" American Maid Peggy Shippen doll in a blue gown (similar to one pictured below), a "fire-cracker" red iridescent bracelet, a blue silk fan, "antique" water color rose print suitable for framing (Wild Rose ~ Pierre Joseph Redoute), and 25.00 Amazon gift card.

PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU LEAVE YOUR E-MAIL ADDRESS with your comment so a winner can be notified.    
... and THANK YOU ALLISON for graciously giving of your time to be on Hope Inspired Stories!   
 Blessings to all-- and enjoy your Fourth!


  1. What an interesting story - the woman behind the American figure well-known to most history lovers. Can't wait to read The Traitor's Wife. God bless Allison's success in her writing career. (

  2. Pat, you've done it again by bringing another fabulous author to your blog! And the doll is gorgeous as was the one you made of the heroine in my novel. You are such a talented lady and have a knack for interesting interview questions. . .which of course I loved reading the answers to!

    Alison, I met you over at Colonial Quills and am thrilled to see you here on Pat's blog. I enjoyed hearing your thoughts about your most successful scene and I give you kudos for all the creative techniques you incorporated into this book. I commiserate with your comments on your publishing experience with all of the editing and marketing. You have done a fantastic job with it all! Your next novel sounds just as intriguing as the first.

    carlagade [at] gmail [dot] com

  3. I smiled when I read this book review and interview. Just this morning while I was watching TCM, a movie called 'The Scarlet Coat' came on. I was wondering how Benedict Arnolds wife handled his betrayal. What an intreeging story! I would love to read this book! Congratulations on this book and the next one to come! (

  4. When I was a teenager (many years ago!) I read a historical novel, and Peggy Shippen was a minor character-- a friend of the fictional heroine. Peggy wanted to marry one man, but her father made her marry someone else. Evidently that was based on true fact! (I also thought "Shippen" was a cool name.)

    Congratulations, Allison, on your debut novel!

    derobin7 at gmail dot com

  5. I haven't read much historical fiction lately, but this book sounds like a great one to jump back in with. sallybradleywrites at gmail dot com.

  6. Wow, this sounds like it would be a great book to read. I enjoy historical novels and would love to win this book. Thank you for this opportunity

  7. Forgot to leave my email addy! Thanks again!

  8. This book sounds really good and I love the cover. Please enter me in the drawing for this wonderful giveaway. Pat, I LOVE that doll! You have such a God-given talent! Hugs and God bless!

  9. I loved The Traitor's Wife. One of my favorite books for the year. I would love to have a personal copy.
    Thank you!
    campbellamyd at Gmail dot com