She has nothing to say to some, little to say to others, and nothing good to say about some others. The first words readers observe are directed towards her dog, Bobby, whose tail is “furled on his back like a Prince of Wales plume”. Mrs. Parsters is near-royalty. Or, at least she seems to think so.
But not everyone is as they first seem. The Tuttlingens, for instance, are not exactly a couple to whom one would refer to in the plural. And although Mrs. Parsters assumes that Mrs. Owens is a divorcée, she is married.
“Mrs. Owens took a deep breath, deciding the time had come to explain, once and for all, that she was not divorced. But, as so frequently happened, by the time she had formulated the sentence, the conversation had moved along.”
If readers need a reminder that there is more to the scene than what appears in the snippets of dialogue, the “strange rabbit paths” as Mrs. Owens views them, and sensory details, we occasionally have an interior view like this one.
Also, details observed, like Heidemarie, companion of Dr. Tuttlingen, cuddling up with Bobby, expressing her interest in England and all the other dogs who reside there. (Mrs. Parsters seems to dangle them in front of her, knowing how badly Heidemarie would like to travel.)
Urquhart continues her observation about Gallant’s characterization: “She specializes instead in the surprises one encounters, and the insights one receives, when walking through the hundreds of shades of grey present in the subtle shadows, shadows so often overlooked by lesser writers.”