The Wager by Donna Jo Napoli is a retelling of a traditional Sicilian fairy tale published in early 2010. I honestly had thought that this story would be good. Like many other books, I had read the reviews and book description awhile ago; however, I didn't remember exactly what it was about. The book description and reviews peaked my interest. When I was able to get the book from the library I could only remember the story was something along the lines of a man making a deal with the devil.
The following book description is from Amazon:
Don Giovanni was once the wealthiest and handsomest young man in Messina. Then a tidal wave changed everything. When a well-dressed stranger offers him a magical purse, he knows he shouldn’t take it. Only the devil would offer a deal like this, and only a fool would accept.
Don Giovanni is no fool, but he is desperate. He takes the bet: he will not bathe for 3 years, 3 months, and 3 days. Beauty is a small price to pay for worldly wealth, isn’t it? Unless he loses the wager—and with it his soul.
Set against the stunning backdrop of ancient Sicily, Donna Jo Napoli’s new novel is a powerful tale about discovering what truly matters most.
I was honestly very disappointed with the story line of The Wager. I feel this 272 page story could've been told in 20 pages; it would've made a much better short story. There just wasn't enough to the story to make it that long; the story needed much more. While reading you learn a little about the main character, Don Giovanni; you learn he is vain, wealthy, his parents died when he was young, and he looks at women in a way that disturbed me throughout the story. I almost stopped reading b/c he just seemed to say/think something inappropriate about every woman he saw.
Now, the basis of the story is Don Giovanni makes a deal with the devil that he could not bathe or change his clothes for 3 years, 3 months, and 3 days. I was impressed with the detail the author went into describing his filth and how the filth developed and reach levels I never could've imagined. I was disturbed by his filth and couldn't imagine living like that or even see someone that filthy.
The author wrote the filth well. On the other hand, the author did seem to drag the story on with too much day to day living and nothing truly developing or building of the story. I felt like I was reading pages and pages of his travels or search for food and shelter. I was too much of the same thing that did not entice me to want to keep reading. The only thing that kept me reading was the desire to know if he won the bet with the devil. Honestly, I was even disappointed with the ending. Since the entire story is based on this bet I was hoping for more when the bet was won or lost. All in all, the story disappointed me.
I honestly would give this story 1 star out of 5. It was a good idea, but it needed a lot more to make the story a worthy novel to read.