Title: The Traitor’s Wife
Author: Allison Pataki
Publisher: Howard Books
What a riveting, suspenseful and thoroughly entertaining novel! When I approach a historical novel of this magnitude, I usually read the author’s notes on the research that sometimes details which characters are from reality and those which are purely fiction. One reason I do that is so as I am reading, I can savor the richness of both the history shared along with the imagination of the writer. While I remember that Benedict Arnold was a traitor who was willing to hand over West Point to the British, there is more to the facts than I recalled.
Another reason I read the notes first is to attempt to glean the depth of the story based on the length the writer goes to in order to unearth fact. Finally, the last reason I read the back first is to see if there are other notable books I might desire to obtain on the subject matter. What Allison Pataki writes in the back is for the audience to read on their own time the knowledge and sources shared by Allison.
While many may approach this tale with more knowledge than I or less will in no way make the reading of the book less enjoyable. I spent hours just turning pages, trying to imagine what life was like in the past for both the servants and those of means. What was it like to have war on this soil in this country that I love with all my heart? What would it be like to be the maid in service of a self-absorbed woman who cared only for herself and not a whit about the men she claimed to love or the cost of freedom?
Part of the novel was just entrancing as I felt like an observer watching the main antagonist work cunningly to maneuver people to do the bidding necessary to bring to her what she wanted without care of family or friends. Then, I would come upon a scene and realize just how far removed the servants were thought to be from their masters and the many things they observed, heard or witnessed. Servants were treated as if they were property or merely shadows to do the master’s bidding. In this tale, Clara, the maid servant is becoming entangled in the treachery of her mistress.
The ending of the novel is bittersweet. For a debut novel, this author truly did her homework and took painstaking time paying attention to details of all different sorts related to this period of history. The details help the audience picture in their minds the setting and mannerisms of the era. It would indeed be a shame if anyone passed up reading a wonderful novel that reminds us all of how our choices not only affect the moment, but can have rippling consequences decades down the road.
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