Portrait of a Girl by Dörthe Binkert

English | ePUB | Pages: 364 | 606.90 kB

In the summer of 1896, a grand Swiss spa hotel becomes a refuge for Nika, a penniless beauty whose tortured past has left her unable to speak. While working in the manicured gardens, she becomes a muse to the celebrated painter Giovanni Segantini, who takes her under his wing.

Although he’s married, the two bond closely, and beneath his gaze Nika blossoms. She opens her heart to Segantini, serving as the muse for his luminous masterwork La Vanità, and through his patience recovers her voice. The secret between them is her sole material possession: a golden locket with clues to her mysterious heritage.

How will Nika learn the hidden secrets of the locket and uncover her origins? And what path awaits her once the facts are revealed? As her ties to Segantini grow ever more complex, her search for love and truth becomes as perilous as the quest for an alpine summit – and her destiny is rewritten on the journey.


Portrait of a Girl by Dörthe Binkert is a delightful story set in the Swiss Alps at the end of the 19th century. Originally published as Bildnis Eines Mädchens in German in 2010 by Dt. Taschenbuch-Verl, it has been beautifully rendered into English by Margot Bettauer Dembo, and explores the lives of people taking shelter at a luxurious and imposing Swiss spa hotel.

Heartfelt but funny, tense but delightful, author Binkert created an eclectic and impressive cast of characters whose lives entwined at the spa, not sparing even the staff. But the main protagonist in the story is a young mute girl Nika with a tortured past which left her in the condition she is in when the story begins. She becomes the muse of a renowned painter Giovanni Segantini, and the story follows their relationship as the main thread of the book while also diverging into other threads.

Delightful, poignant and enjoyable, you will be absorbed into the story as Nika delved deep into her past to discover who she really is.

review by Sojourner