Little wonder that the young man is so attentive to his surroundings, as M. Perrigny is a journalist on assignment for a Paris newspaper. Readers may not have a view of Mme. Perrigny’s intimate thoughts, but it seems likely she has made her own observations of the older couple’s exchange, as she suddenly broaches the subject of a fractured romance in her husband’s past.
“Were you really in love with her?”
“I was the first time I saw her. The mistake was that I married her. The mystery was why I ever married her.”
Some of the older man’s disgruntledness has spread to M. Perrigny, who wonders at their still being together, at the way they are “chained” to one another in their old age.
Even the bookish bit – which might seem innocuous in another story – encapsulates a sense of frustration and anxiety:
“A gap of two hours in a strange town, in transit, was like being shut up in a stalled lift with nothing to read.”
The Perrignys are caught in a stalled lift with nothing to read. And already, even in the early days of their marriage, there is little consolation in one another’s company. “In Transit” swells with the loneliness that clouds so many of Mavis Gallant’s tales. But the clarity of her prose offers a seamless lift-off and spectacular views from the margins.