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The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Book Review: Anne Supsic’s ‘The Bookmark’: Lafayette like you’ve never seen him

Anne Supsic’s ‘The Bookmark’ is a historical romance that bridges Bethlehem’s past and present. (Photo courtesy of Goodreads)

A historical romance novel featuring Marquis de Lafayette set in 18th-century Bethlehem? Say no more. Take my money.

Beloved readers, I’m being completely honest with you when I say that I have never bought a book faster than when I first heard the description of Anne Supsic’s “The Bookmark.” I would estimate there was a grand total of five minutes between when I found out this book existed and when it was on its way to my campus mailbox and on my schedule to read and review.

Alternating between 1777 and 2005, “The Bookmark” tells the story of Liesl Boeckel, a young, headstrong Moravian sister who takes care of Lafayette as he recovers from a leg wound sustained in battle. Liesl resents the responsibility of taking care of the opinionated Frenchman, but an unlikely friendship — and perhaps something more — begins to blossom between the pair.

Interspersed within Liesl and Lafayette’s narrative is the story of Abbey, a young woman who moves into her recently deceased grandmother’s Bethlehem home after a messy breakup. When she inherits one of her grandmother’s centuries-old bookmarks to add to her accumulating collection, Abbey’s and Liesl’s stories intertwine, paralleling each other in ways that span the passage of time.

Despite giving readers a hefty, sometimes overwhelming history lesson, Supsic manages to make the book a light and engaging read. The novel appeals to a relatively niche audience: those with a penchant for the intricacies of Revolutionary War history and those looking for a deep dive into the Lehigh Valley’s past.

Actually, there might be a third category of people who will be enthralled by the novel: Lafayette groupies. I think I can speak for many of my peers when I say that the Marquis takes on a somewhat mythic quality for students of his namesake institution. We walk past several statues of him every day on campus, but “The Bookmark” provides a rare opportunity to peek into the personal life of the larger-than-life figure.

My favorite part of the book by far was Lafayette’s character and his dynamic with Liesl. Supsic managed to make the Marquis’ character both exactly as I expected — arrogant and confident with a heart of gold — and a pleasant surprise in his softness. I don’t think we can know how much of that is confirmed historical dogma, but nonetheless, I feel more of a connection to Lafayette than ever before.

Overall, “The Bookmark” is a well-researched, historically interesting novel that offers a compelling look into the life of Lafayette and the storied past of the Lehigh Valley. The historical world-building often eclipses the romance aspect, but Supsic’s book will certainly hit the spot for any local history buffs.

Supsic read an excerpt from “The Bookmark” at the Easton Book Festival last week. If you missed it, don’t worry; a recording of the reading can be found on YouTube.

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About the Contributor
Madeline Marriott
Madeline Marriott, Editor-in-Chief
Maddie (she/her) is a senior English major with a Government & Law minor. As the Editor-in-Chief, a Mentor Writing Associate, a Senior Student Contributor for Lafayette Communications, a Communications Intern for the Office of Sustainability, co-founder and Vice President of English Club, and a Senior Interviewer for Lafayette Admissions, no writing happens on campus without her knowing about it. Her Google Calendar would make your head spin. She is a die-hard Swiftie and Phillies fan, a collector of tote bags, a builder of a Hay Day empire, and an avid Goodreads and Letterboxd user. She smokes cigars and uses an old-timey typewriter and notepad in the newsroom.

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