Friday, December 12, 2008

The Silver Cup

The Silver Cup
Constance Leeds

Set in the year 1095 in Medieval Germany, The Silver Cup is the story of Anna. Anna lives with her father Gunter who is a trader and travels to nearby towns to trade his goods. Anna’s life is not easy – her mother died when she was young and even as a child she does the work of a woman. To make matters worse, her aunt who lives next door looks down upon her and does anything she can to make Anna’s life miserable. Although Anna is close to her cousin Lukas, she feels like an outcast.

One day Anna accompanies her father to the nearby city of Worms where he conducts business with a Jewish man. Anna is both fascinated and horrified by the Jews – she like all the Christians around her has been brought up to believe that Jews are born with tails and horns and can never be forgiven for murdering Christ.

In the world outside Anna’s small village, the Pope has called for a crusade and many (including Anna’s cousin Martin) are eager to go. Unfortunately, the horrible Count Emich has been gathering troops under the guise of taking them on crusade but in reality he’s using the opportunity to rape, murder, and pillage all the Jews in the various towns he encounters.

Anna and her father arrive in Worms the day after Count Emich has left. What they find leaves them vomiting in the streets from the sheer horror. Anna does find one survivor – a girl named Leah – and she insists on bringing her home, even though it will bring problems and she will become even a greater outcast.

I must say I really liked this book. It gave me a really good feel for life in Germany during this time period. I enjoyed the characters and felt that they were well rounded and believable. The pages in Worms where Anna and her father witness the results of the slaughter of the Jews are truly wrenching and yet not inappropriate for most middle school students. This will be a great addition to my historical fiction collection.

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