The Devil’s Reward

Written by Christopher Jon Delogu (trans.) Emmanuelle de Villepin
Review by Jackie Drohan

Evocative is the best description of this short novel spanning two world wars to the present day, and which, despite its often superfluous layers of breezy dialog and nested narrative, manages to keep the reader engaged through three generations of family saga.

Christiane is the 86-year-old matriarch of a Parisian family delighting in the opportunity to share time and close-held stories with her daughter and granddaughter. She is a consummate storyteller whose spunky dialog overlays an almost young-adult appeal to content ranging from mundane travelogue to spiritual humanist philosophy. Her daughter Catherine, long distraught over her husband’s infidelities, and her granddaughter Luna closely echo Christiane’s literary voice.

There are many teasers, the most fascinating of which include the family’s personal relationship to Rudolf Steiner, contemporary of Mme. Blatovsky who applied a derivative of Theosophical principals to childhood education. Despite numerous buildups and reveals across two world wars, more is suggested, however, than delivered, and by the end the reader feels left a bit dangling and, perhaps to the book’s credit, wanting to know more.

Readable and authentic for fans of the period.