Mrs. Tristram is a woman of great sensitivity and perception who has been somewhat embittered by some bitter strokes in life. She functions mainly in the novel as a confidante to Newman.
Once in her youth, she had been engaged to a clever man who had spurned her. She married Tom Tristram on the rebound. Even though she is American, she seems somewhat more of the European. She is able to come straight to a point without offending Newman or anyone, and she is able to take an idea and see more sides of it than is Newman who is perhaps too closely bound up in the idea. With these qualities, she fits well into her role of listening to and advising Christopher Newman.