Monday, April 11, 2011

The Wager by Donna Jo Napoli

This might be my new favorite book by Donna Jo Napoli. (Although Crazy Jack still holds a dear place in my heart.) This is the retelling of a Sicilian version of Bearskin, which is also somewhat obscure though at least familiar to those of us who have a solid handle on The Complete Brothers Grimm.

Don Giovanni loses his home and his possessions after a massive wave destroys the city he grew up in. He wanders about for a bit before a run-in with a demon or devil, in which the dark creature offers him a wager: an endless purse, all the money he could desire, but in return, he must not bath, change clothes, or clean himself in any way, for three years, three months, and three days. At the end of his rope, Giovanni accepts, hardly understanding what he is getting himself in for.

With thought-provoking philosophy on loyalty, persistence, and the value of wealth, and a nice dose of history, I'd call this one of Napoli's most successful retellings. Well worth reading, especially if you've enjoyed her other work.


  1. Hi,

    Wasn't sure how to contact you, so a comment will have to do! I'd like to recommend a book for your blog. It's Woods Wolf Girl, by Cornelia Hoogland, and it's based on the Red Riding Hood story. Check it out at:


  2. I apologize as well - want to recommend a couple of pieces of audio drama (hope you don't mind non-books). Twisted tales of Faerie from Gypsy Audio ( and my B&B Investigations Tales (Cry Wolf, The Naked Truth, and Hot Ginger Bread) at
    Didn't see any other place to send you a note.