Madame Odintsova is 29 years old, but during her short life she has experienced much and seen a great deal of the world. She had earlier married a very rich man who was considerably older than she. She accepted him because of his age and his ordered way of life. When he died and left her a rich lady, she traveled through various parts of Europe before deciding to return to the provinces to settle down.
Madame Odintsova is not liked in the province because she is a woman with too many liberal ideas. When she meets Arkady, she asks about Bazarov because she wants to know a person who has had the courage "not to believe in anything." This desire to meet Bazarov is a result of Madame Odintsova's cold and austere personality. She has decided to remove herself from all the anxieties of life, and in meeting Bazarov, she hopes to see what someone else's different and unique response is to the problem of living.
For Madame Odintsova, the ultimate concern is to maintain peace and order. She runs her household and estate in a precise orderly fashion, and virtually never strays from the bounds she has imposed upon life. She believes that "without order, life would be too boring." Her reluctance to become attached to Bazarov is actually based upon the fear of being taken away from her ordered existence and led into unknown seas. For her, "peace is after all the best thing in life." Thus, she remains cold and austere even to the end.