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News

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council continues to explore options to address parking constraints in the downtown triangle.

The Los Altos City Council last week held the first of two study sessions to discuss the potential construct...

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Schools

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A Los Altos High School student learns how to use robotic surgical equipment at the school’s Science and Technology Week event last year. Students can also attend hands-on presentations at this year’s event, w...

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Community

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display


Town Crier File Photo
Pirate Manor is once again scheduled to arrive in the front yard of Dane and Jill Glasgow’s home on Manor Way in Los Altos, just in time for Halloween.

Although not the Walking Dead, pirate skeletons have been brought to li...

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Sports

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Eric Reitmeir launches the ball over Mountain View High driver David Niehaus (2) and goalie Kenny Tang. The host Lancers won Friday’s non-league game 9-3.

There wasn’t a lot on the line Friday when ...

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Comment

Reeder, Fung for El Camino HCD: Editorial

The good news for the El Camino Healthcare District (formerly the El Camino Hospital District, for those still getting used to the new name) is that there is a contested election Nov. 4 for the district’s board of directors. Three candidates are runn...

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Special Sections

Plant-based diet offers benefits

Plant-based diet offers benefits


Photo by Ramya Krishna
Los Altos resident Nandini Krishna prepares a meat-free dish According to author Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., M.D., a plant-based diet can help prevent cancer.

Shirley Okita of Los Altos has found that adhering to a mostly plant...

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Business

New shop offers haute couture for girls

New shop offers haute couture for girls


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Girls @ Los Altos at 239 State St. offers clothing lines such as Nellystella as well as toys and other items for girls.

Cecilia Chen opened The Girls @ Los Altos as a tribute to the party dress. Whether it’s for...

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Books

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mimi Sommers, who works at a Los Altos dentist’s office, recently wrote a children’s book.

A local dental hygienist recently published a book that aims to ease parents and children during a sometimes anxious e...

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People

BARBARA DARLING MERIDETH

1946-2014

Born in Palo Alto, raised in Los Altos, retired in southern Oregon. Survived by Peter James Merideth, sons Matthew, Jacob and John Merideth, the loves of her life.

She was a housewife who took great pride in her home, her surroundings and...

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Travel

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors


Courtesy of Castello di Amorosa
Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga, above, boasts a beautiful setting for viewing fall’s colors – and sampling the vineyard’s wines.

Yes, Virginia, there is fall in California.

The colors pop out in...

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Stepping Out

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn



Los Altos Youth Theatre’s production of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” a musical based on Washington Irving’s classic story, is set to run through Nov. 2 at Bus Barn Theater. The cast comprises 27 young actors, directed by Cindy Powell. Courtesy o...

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Spiritual Life

Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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


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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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