Don Giovanni was once the wealthiest, most handsome 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.
The Wager is a 2011 Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year.
Donna Jo Napoli is an acclaimed author best known for her fantasy novels, including The Wager. She lives in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, with her family.
“Napoli expertly sets the scene for this retelling of a traditional Sicilian tale. . . . The lifelike, tactile details of the story make it all eerily real.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Readers follow Don Giovanni's journey of the flesh and spirit as he suffers humiliation and physical decay; descriptions of lush feasts and brightly colored brocades give way to wretched scenes described in lurid detail. . . . Napoli never underestimates her audience, depicting human nature at its worst and its best.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Evocative of Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha, this marvelous story is well told, and the rich, sophisticated language will grip skilled readers.” —School Library Journal
“A surprise twist leads to a satisfying love story and closes the novel with more joy, and fewer devilish triumphs, than the original tale.” —Booklist
“No hero ever deserved a happy ending or a bath more.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Napoli ably describes the ensuing tribulations Don Giovanni undergoes as he becomes more offensive to be around even as he longs for companionship for the first time in his life.” —VOYA
“Impeccable pacing conveys the burden of the three-year ordeal, and even those readers for whom the end is no surprise will breathe a sigh of relief to find Giovanni reclaimed and within reach of happiness.” —BCCB, starred review
“There's something rotten at the center of this novel-length fairy-tale retelling, and that's what makes it so delightful.” —The Horn Book Magazine
“Through this deeply personal story, Napoli paints a magnificent and mournful portrait of the Italian Renaissance, both tragic and triumphant.” —Kirkus Reviews on The Smile
“Another wonderfully researched and well-crafted novel from Napoli that artfully blends fact and fiction. Readers will be moved.” —School Library Journal on The Smile
“A dramatic and masterful retelling.” —School Library Journal on Bound
“Napoli creates strong, unforgettable characters.” —Booklist on Bound
“Superbly gifted at word painting.” —VOYA on Breath
“Napoli visits her magic upon the tale of Rapunzel, creating a work of depth and beauty. . . . The genius of the novel lies not just in the details but in its breadth of vision. Its shiveringly romantic conclusion will leave readers spellbound.” —Publishers Weekly on Zel