The Silver Cup
Anna lives in a small village between Speyer and Worms along the Rhine, and the time is 1095-96. Anna’s father is a trader, and when Anna accompanies him on a trip to Worms, she encounters Jews for the first time. Anna’s father is trading with a rich Jewish merchant, and Anna does not know what to make of this family who look so happy and so prosperous. Doesn’t everyone say Jews aren’t really human?
When Anna and her father return to Worms months later, they find that Count Emich and his marauding group of would-be Crusaders have just come through, slaughtering the Jews. Anna finds Leah, the Jewish girl she first saw in her happy family home, hiding and cowering in fear. Anna insists on bringing her home, lest she be sold into slavery, despite her father’s protests. Anna is ostracized by her entire village, and she and Leah fear for their safety. A way must be found for Leah to rejoin Jews elsewhere, as Leah refuses to convert.
The author has done a good job of recreating the time and the villagers’ attitudes, though as she notes, this was hard, as the 11th century was a largely illiterate time. The dialogue is often wooden, but the story was engaging enough to carry me along. A glossary and list of foreign phrases is included.