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The Wager by Donna Jo Napoli

The Wager - Donna Jo Napoli

As I read this book, I thought it had the makings of a fairytale and then in the notes in the reader at the back of the book, I found that it is an old Sicilian fairytale that the author put her spin on. I will tell this tale often as it is with so many fairytales, there is a deeper meaning within its grasp if you truly want to look for it. I picked up The Wager at the library because the cover surprised me. I loved the wickedness of the red and black contrasting colors, the pictures portrayed on the front and the font showcasing the title. Don, the main baron in the book wasn’t an evil man; he had just been raised inside his castle, admired by many women. When a tidal wave swept the village away that surrounded him, Don helped the villagers as others purged out his wealth from his castle on the hilltop. Alone, neither servants nor family, no money to fall back on, Don was just like all the other villagers and he like everyone else had to find a way to survive. Don Diovanni, a man once admired was left on the streets trying to rebuild his life. No sleep for me as I watched Don try to uphold is clean image living among the others on the street. They laughed at him, how he could be the famous Don, the man with all the money living among them, eating day-old bread and scrounging among the trees and bushes for berries. This novel was remarkable and I knew my evening was inside this book when Don met a distinguished gentleman and what he offered Don, would push him to his limits. This was no gentleman, for what he offered him was a gamble, a risk, a bet that only the Devil himself thought he could win at and he had set it before Don, hoping Don would crumble at his feet. Don could not take his sad pathetic life anymore so he took The Wager from the Devil, the deal was made. No washing, no shaving, no changing of his clothes, no change to his beauty for 3 years, 3 months and 3 days. Don was willing to exchange his soul to acquire his wealth back but as the days, months and years progressed, Don’s conditions based on this wager was deteriorating. I could not tear myself away from this novel, what a terrific story. I was so engrossed with Don’s fight to win this battle with the Devil and his transformation from someone so powerful to someone who walks with the people. As Don walks among the villages, now looking sometimes worse than the beggars, my image of him was disgusting, not bathing or washing his clothes for days or months, he had to look and smell awful. His sores, the lice, his breath and hair, his fear of losing but yet he continued on looking forward to the day he would get his wealth back and what exactly he would do on that day. This is definitely a keeper!