Immediately preceding Chapter 16, we have been following the story of Isabelle Rossignol, a 19-year-old French woman who is passing messages for the French resistance in German occupied Northern France during WWII. She has suffered many hardships during her life -- an alienated father who was psychologically scarred by traumatic experiences in the WWI trenches, the death of her mother early in Isabelle's childhood, a temperament not suited to convent schools that repeatedly expel her and, now, thieving soldiers, hunger, fear, humiliation and constant threat of bodily harm from the occupying German military.
Jump to 1995, On the Oregon coast, a successful surgeon is moving his mother into a retirement community. The woman may or may not be Isabelle Rossignol, but like Isabelle, she risked her life during WWII. She worked as a passeur for the French resistance. Evidently, her protective son, the surgeon, knows nothing about her history with the resistance.
I am trussed up like a chicken for roasting. I know these modern seat belts are a good thing, but they make me feel claustrophobic. I belong to a generation that didn’t expect to be protected from every danger. I remember what it used to be like, back in the days when one was required to make smart choices. We knew the risks and took them anyway. I remember driving too fast in my old Chevrolet, my foot pressed hard on the gas, smoking a cigarette and listening to Price sing “Lawdy, Miss Clawdy” through small black speakers while children rolled around in the backseat like bowling pins. My son is afraid that I will make a break for it, I suppose, and it is a reasonable fear. In the past month, my entire life has been turned upside down. There is a SOLD sign in my front yard and I am leaving home. “It’s a pretty driveway, don’t you think?” my son says. It’s what he does; he fills space with words, and
Hannah, Kristin (2015-02-03). The Nightingale (p. 143). St. Martin's Press. Kindle Edition.