I can't believe I finished all 814 pages with more than a week to spare before my book club meeting! I started The Silver Chalice while on vacation, reading aloud to Russ while driving, but didn't manage to get very far (children needed attention, and all). When we arrived home, Russ snatched it away and finished it as I labored under a mountain of laundry. Finally, he gave the book his stamp of approval and handed it over.
A couple years ago, my book club decided on a choice of four books for a particular month. I chose to read The Robe and hoped to read the remaining books (The Silver Chalice, Ben Hur, and Quo Vadis) in the future. When planning out the book list this year, a member suggested we choose again from those four books one month. I was thrilled! The Robe was excellent, surprising me as I had not read anything set in that time period other than The Bible. The Silver Chalice was highly recommended, and I hoped not to be disappointed.
Disappointed I was not. The writing style was clear; the characters came to life; the plot moved along; there was romance, mystery, adventure, history, and believable transformation in the life of the main character. At no point did I feel bogged down. I just wished for a whole day without interruptions so that I could bury myself in the story.
The Silver Chalice follows the life of Basil, a Roman citizen and artisan, as he is adopted by a wealthy merchant, has his position stolen from him by a dishonest uncle, is sold into slavery, and then has his freedom purchased so that he can design a silver chalice to hold the sacred cup used by Jesus at the last supper. Basil travels from Antioch to Jerusalem, Greece, and Rome to fulfill his commission.
Having very little knowledge of ancient history other than the Bible, I felt the author did an excellent job of making the story accessible and informative. I loved the picture he gave of famous men of the Bible such as Peter, Joseph of Arimathea, Paul, and especially Luke. It made me so very happy to have a little boy with the name Luke.
Levi and I have been reading through the New Testament in his Children's Illustrated Bible, and I have had a few aha! moments as I relate the two stories, even though The Silver Chalice is a fictional account. I have had an easier time seeing the larger picture.
Levi wanted to know if he could attend book club since he 'knows all about' Ben Hur. He has listened to the radio theater version of Ben Hur, and watched an animated version with the voice of Charlton Heston. I guess it is time to create a book club which he can attend! And I suppose maybe I'll have to catch up and listen to/watch those versions before my book club meeting!
My excitement to study ancient history this next year has increased. Ben Hur and Quo Vadis will be on my reading list for 2008. It is quite possible that they will both join The Robe and The Silver Chalice on my favorites list.
The Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall, is a Jewish holy place found in Jerusalem, Israel. It is part of the first and second temples that were mostly destroyed. I chose this location to add to our 'Around the World' cards this week.