You guys know that I love a good historical fiction book, so when I got the chance to be part of The Traitor’s Wife blog tour, I was thrilled! My husband is a huge Revolutionary era history buff, so it was a bonus on that front too, to be able to chat about the book with him! But the way Allison Pataki’s writing and characterization pulled me into the novel, it was quickly clear that this was nothing like my husband’s historical tomes. Nope! This book is definitely that oh-so-compelling blend of drama, thrills and sighs. Think Downton Abbey but with a revolution going on!
I’ll cover all of that in my review when it goes live in a couple of days. But for now, dear reader….I have a treat for you!!!! Yes! Thanks to the lovely ladies at Kismet Book Touring, I get to host Allison herself, talking about one of the major themes of the book: how the different worlds of the narrator (Clara, the lady’s maid) and the people directly playing a role in the history unfolding (Peggy, the traitor’s wive herself) collide.
So without further ado…here’s Allison answering the question:
This book has an upstairs/downstairs dichotomy throughout. How was it writing the scenes that take place in the servants’ quarters as opposed to those that take place in the “front half” of the house?
It really was like writing about two different worlds. Or, at least, two different worldviews. Those who felt that the future was theirs to narrate, versus those who fates’ seemed to be at the whim of their employers. But, ultimately, no one has complete control in this novel, do they? If anything, Peggy and Benedict Arnold are the two characters’ whose fortunes are the most upended by the events around them and what might have been just dumb luck.
The story is told through the eyes of a fictional maid, Clara. Throughout the course of The Traitor’s Wife, Clara struggles to negotiate the socioeconomic divides that existed in the grand homes like the Shippen household or the Arnold household. For Clara, stepping into the Shippen townhome in Philadelphia for the first time is like stepping into a completely foreign world. She has never seen such grand furniture, such decadent food, so much expensive clothing. And she has certainly never met anyone like her new employer, Peggy Shippen.
So many of the old colonial era homes I’ve seen have the front half of the house, and the servants’ quarter of the house. There are separate doors, separate stairways, separate bedrooms. A “servants’ wing” seems like such an antiquated architectural feature now. Like it belongs to Downton Abbey, right? But I have always been fascinated by the upstairs/downstairs interplays, and how these households must have felt so different, depending on which side of the door you lived on.
I think, in many ways, the dramas and perspectives that play out in the servants’ wings of this book are even more exciting than what is going on in the other side of the house. And the fates and futures of the servants would have been just as tied to the outcome of the American Revolution as were the fates of families like the Shippens or Arnolds.
In the end, the whole idea of America – the principles for which Caleb and Clara and George Washington and so many others in this book are fighting – is about shedding the divides that make the “front half” of the house so different from the “back half” of the house. That’s the American Dream, isn’t it – the right of each individual to pursue his or her own happiness? It was a struggle back then, and it continues to be a struggle today. Our democracy, which was so brand new in the days of The Traitor’s Wife, continues to evolve and change.
I loved the how the tension Allison describes played out in this fantastic book! And I can’t wait to share my full review with you guys!!
But in the interim, here are all the details you need about the book.
The Traitor’s Wife by Allison Pataki
Publication date: February 11th 2014 by Howard Books
About 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 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.
About Allison Pataki
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.
The Traitor’s Wife Book Trailer
Check out the below stops for tons of additional interesting posts about this fantastic book!
- Monday, January 20th – Daily Mayo
- Tuesday, January 21st – Fire & Ice
- Wednesday, January 22nd – Sofia Loves Books
- Thursday, January 23rd – Little Miss Drama Queen
- Friday, January 24th – Book – A – Holic
- Monday, January 27th – The Most Happy Reader
- Tuesday, January 28th – Evie Bookish
- Wednesday, January 29th – Books Beside My Bed
- Thursday, January 30th – Crossroad Reviews
- Friday, January 31st – Reading Reality
- Monday, February 3rd – Curling Up with a Good Book
- Tuesday, February 4th – Le Grande Codex
- Wednesday, February 5th – Bewitched Bookworms
- Thursday, February 6th – Supernatural Snark
- Friday, February 7th – Rose’s Book Corner
On top of all of the above, Allison’s offering a chance to win a Kindle Paperwhite!!! Enter today for your chance to win!!!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Don’t forget to leave a comment and let me know what you think about Historical fiction and this sexy, suspenseful book as well!