Robin Fennel, Katherine’s English pen pal. Dark and slight, Robin possesses long eyelashes and bowlegs. Idolized by Katherine, he treats her as would a schoolboy, with courteous reserve and consideration but not romantically. When she is saved by him from toppling into the water, Katherine falls in love with him, even though his sister claims he is dull and ordinary. On the last night of Katherine’s summer visit, Robin awkwardly kisses her. When war breaks out, he joins the army and spends fourteen months as an artilleryman. Having not seen Katherine for six years, Robin writes her to say he will call on her that afternoon. He slips away without leave from his military post with the intention of sleeping with Katherine, leaving a friend to cover his absence. He attempts to force kisses on her but cannot arouse an amorous response from her.
Jane Fennel, Robin’s older sister. She left school at the age of sixteen and went to technical college to learn shorthand and typing. She then worked at an insurance office for a year and subsequently for her father. When Katherine meets her, Jane is without an occupation and always acts as chaperon to Katherine and Robin. She is a small and bony young woman who is rude to Katherine during her stay at the Fennels’ home. Although Robin has been Katherine’s pen pal, it is actually Jane who encouraged Robin to invite Katherine to stay with the family for the summer. Although she lacks Katherine’s romantic illusions, she agrees to marry Jack Stormalong to escape the boredom of home. Jane’s daughter, Lucy Katherine, is named in part for Katherine Lind, but the child is born with a defective heart and dies.
Jack Stormalong, a young, fast-talking friend of the Fennels. About twenty-five years old, Jack stands more than six feet tall and drives a sports car. He has short, wavy, oily hair and blue eyes, and his front teeth protrude. He has been tiger hunting in India, and his visit to the Fennels removes Katherine as the center of attention.
Lancelot Anstey, Katherine’s fussy and irritable boss, the head librarian. Thin and about forty years old, Anstey has a narrow face and oiled hair. A widower–his wife died five years previously–he smokes a pipe and is a boorish and pompous man. Katherine discovers that he is secretly courting Miss Parbury when she finds an unsigned letter in his handwriting in Miss Parbury’s purse.
Miss Green, a junior librarian about sixteen years old. She has the reputation of a gossip at work. Although she lives with her mother, when she suffers from a toothache she is directed to a dentist by Katherine, who is quite considerate of Miss Green’s suffering.
Miss Veronica Parbury, the owner of the handbag that Katherine mistakenly picks up when buying aspirin for Miss Green. About thirty years old, she lives with her invalid mother who has had a stroke.
Miss Holloway, a library cataloger. She has crisp black hair and horned spectacles. She is Katherine’s well-informed but unemotional colleague.
Rylands, the previous head of the library. Young and well-educated with a university degree, he left the library to become a soldier.