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News

West Nile fogging commences today

West Nile fogging commences today


Courtesy of the Santa Clara County Vector Control District
Fogging commences Wednesday within the highlighted area.

The detection of West Nile Virus-infected mosquitos means that Santa Clara County officials will begin mosquito fogging operations...

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Schools

LASD trustees reopen negotiations with Los Altos Teachers Association

The Los Altos School District Board of Trustees last week directed staff to reopen negotiations with the Los Altos Teachers Association, a move intended to shore up the district’s financial picture.

According to the district’s current co...

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Community

LA teenager crowned Miss Golden State, advances to national pageant in Florida

LA teenager crowned Miss Golden State, advances to national pageant in Florida


Alicia Castro/Town Crier
Alexandra McCarthy, crowned Miss Golden State Teen in July, earned “Ms. Personality” honors from her peers.

Alexandra McCarthy has a ways to go before reaching her coveted role as a U.S. Supreme Court justice. Bu...

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Sports

After rough year, Eagles aim to soar once more

After rough year, Eagles aim to soar once more


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Los Altos High senior running back Patrick Vargas snares a pass in practice last week.

Don’t dismiss the Eagles. Coach Trevor Pruitt is adamant that his Los Altos High football team will be better than expected.

&#...

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Comment

Car spotting 2015: A Piece of My Mind

When I was a kid, September was exciting, almost like Christmas, because that was when the Big Three automakers would reveal the new models for the upcoming year.

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Special Sections

Loving on the Edge

Loving on the Edge


Courtesy of Ford
The Ford Edge has been redesigned for 2015. Ford lengthened the wheel base and added cargo space, among other things. The Titanium model sells for approximately $42,000.

Once in a while, a vehicle we test-drive is just right for our...

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Business

Wine bar aims for October opening

Wine bar aims for October opening


Rendering courtesy of Honcho
Honcho, the wine and beer lounge on First Street, expects an October launch. A rendering of the space reveals the interior layout, which includes bar and lounge-style seating.

A downtown libations lounge that anticip...

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People

LOIS CAROLINE WALLES

LOIS CAROLINE WALLES

November, 1928

Lois lost a long and courageous battle with a prolonged illness on July 14th, 2015. She passed away knowing how well she was loved. She was always the life of the party and loved bringing everyone to her home for dinner or an event,...

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Travel

Carmel Valley Ranch unveils upgrades

Carmel Valley Ranch unveils upgrades


Courtesy of Carmel Valley Ranch
Carmel Valley Ranch recently upgraded its Vineyard Oak suites, which feature sweeping views, rocking chairs and private outdoor tubs for soaking under the stars.

Things are heating up at Carmel Valley Ranch, with 30 n...

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Stepping Out

'Dead Man' comes alive at Bus Barn

'Dead Man' comes alive at Bus Barn


Richard Mayer/Special to the Town Crier
The cast of Los Altos Stage Company’s “Dead Man’s Cell Phone” includes, from left, Marjorie Hazeltine (as Hermia), Kristin Walter (Jean) and Adrienne Walters (Carlotta).

Los Altos Stage Company opens its ...

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Spiritual Life

Inside Mountain View

MV actress/playwright Garvin wins NY festival award for

MV actress/playwright Garvin wins NY festival award for "Corners Grove"


Courtesy of Undiscovered Countries
Kaela Mei-Shing Garvin received a New York arts festival award for a featured role in “Corners Grove,” a play she wrote.

New York recognized that one of Mountain View’s own can “make it there” when the Planet C...

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‘The Chaperone’ mixes fiction with 20th-century history


Photo By:

Author Laura Moriarty’s latest novel is one of those books that turns expectation on its head.

Diving into Moriarty’s “The Chaperone” (Riverhead Books, 2012), I anticipated a tale whose heroine is Louise Brooks, the real-life silent-film actress of the 1920s and 1930s, with a secondary fictional character named Cora Carlisle, the woman selected to chaperone Louise on her first trip to New York City. But Cora stars in the book’s leading role, with Louise simply providing the spark that sets Cora’s life in a very different, and ultimately much more fulfilling, direction.

“The Chaperone” begins in 1922, when Cora’s neighbor in Wichita, Kan., asks her to accompany the neighbor’s 15-year-old daughter, Louise, to New York, where she is scheduled to audition for the prestigious Denishawn School of Dancing. Cora, a 36-year-old housewife with two children in college, is bored with her life and frustrated with her marriage, so she jumps at the opportunity. In addition to acting as Louise’s chaperone, Cora wants to conduct research in New York about the circumstances of her birth. All she remembers of her early life is time spent in an orphanage before a farming family in Wichita adopted her.

But Cora gets much more than she bargained for during her trip to the big city. Controlling the headstrong teenager proves a challenge while juggling the information Cora uncovers about her birth parents and her relationship with Joseph, a German immigrant she meets at the orphanage.

“The Chaperone” chronicles Cora’s awakening, in all senses of the word. During the first part of her pivotal journey with Louise, Cora attempts to handle and educate her charge by uttering conventional and rather meaningless homilies: “She’d been a fool all summer, an unhappy woman spouting hurtful, stupid maxims about candy and virtue, telling lies to an injured child,” writes Moriarty of Cora’s fruitless attempts to corral Louise. But after discovering the truth about her parents and meeting Joseph, Cora realizes that she possesses the power to forge a more meaningful life for herself when she returns home.

When Cora returns to Wichita, she adds some spice to her life by moving her lover and his daughter into her home and fervently pursuing liberal causes. The last third of the book, which quickly spans 60 years, documents Cora supporting the birth control movement and establishing a clinic for unwed mothers in her hometown.

A highlight of the book is its vivid descriptions of life in the Big Apple circa 1922, contrasted with life in a Midwest town during the same period. Another draw is Louise, whose character jumps off the page – her unconventional attitudes and behavior provide fun for readers.

In the end, however, I expected more from Cora. I hoped that she would surprise me and do a great deal more than run a clinic and live an unorthodox, secret life at home. Cora’s potential is largely untapped, both in her activities and in her inner life, which Moriarty could have explored at a more leisurely pace.

“The Chaperone” reminded me of “The Paris Wife” (Ballantine Books, 2011). They are both historically detailed books that I think most women’s book clubs would enjoy.

Leslie Ashmore is a longtime Mountain View resident who belongs to two book clubs.

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