Becky's Reviews > The Wager

The Wager by Donna Jo Napoli
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's review
Mar 10, 2011

really liked it

Don Giovanni's life of over-indulgence changes in an instant when his sheep flocks--his primary source of income--are wiped out by a freak tsunami. Forced out of his opulent home, he quickly learns about being hungry--and being shunned as a beggar. The Devil offers him a deal he can't refuse: He can't bathe himself, change his clothes, or cut his hair for three years, three months and three days, in exchange for a purse that produces all the money he needs whenever he asks it to. As he gets dirtier, smellier and hairier, even money can't tempt most people to help him. Through the ordeal, he learns to look beyond appearances to the spirit within a person.

It is an engaging tale (based on an old Italian fairy tale). When Don Giovanni is at his lowest, we begin to want him to succeed--his haughty attitude changes gradually as he encounters increasing humiliation and rejection. The descriptions of his deteriorating clothes and the condition of his unwashed skin are hard to read, especially toward the end, so this is not a book for the squeamish. The ending wraps up a little too quickly and abruptly--I would have liked a final face-off with the Devil and a bit more of what happens to him "after".

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