Gisèle is a talented reader and she announces when Amalia has taken as talent something which Gisèle has simply observed and deduced rather than seen in the layout. But she doesn’t know what to make of Amalia and her obsession with Marie, which stands out when most women want to ask questions about their husbands or about another man in their lives. Gisèle is frustrated, which is understandable, but it’s hard to tell how much of her frustration is rooted in Amalia’s manner and how much is rooted in Gisèle’s prejudice against Rumanians.
Although Amalia’s concerns seem a little off too. During the war, to avoid persecution, Amalia and her husband were able to leave Hungary for Paris, with the assistance of Marie, who stayed behind. How much this assistance actually mattered, readers are unsure. What we do know for certain is that Amalia doesn’t want to dwell on the exact nature of that assistance.
Instead, Amalia is relieved (and simultaneously suspicious) that Marie doesn’t outwardly refer to the jewellery and valuable items which Marie gave to the couple so that they could sell and trade them, as needed, on their journey. On one hand Amalia describes particular items to Gisèle and what they exchanged them for (downplaying the usefulness of these transactions) and on the other hand she insists that diamonds were the only truly valuable commodity.
The jewellery is a distraction, however, because the point is that Amalia could leave that place and Marie remained. And Amalia promised Marie that she would send for her, and surely that was in Marie’s mind when she handed over her valuables. But Amalia never did send for Marie.