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News

Meet the Mountain View City Council candidates

Meet the Mountain View City Council candidates


Nine candidates have filed to run for three open seats on the Mountain View City Council in the Nov. 4 election – none of them incumbents. The Town Crier asked them to introduce themselves to readers in the following Q&A format. We knew the...

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Schools

LASD committee looks to rank campus improvement projects

LASD committee looks to rank campus improvement projects


Traci Newell/Town Crier
The Los Altos School District’s newly expanded Facilities Advisory Committee met for the first time last week. The 28-member committee’s first task is to prioritize campus improvement projects.

The Los Altos Scho...

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Community

Sports

New-look Lancers find their footing

New-look Lancers find their footing


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Jenna Adams, left, and Carly Deale attempt to bump the ball Friday night. The juniors combined for 28 kills.

This year’s St. Francis High girls volleyball team faintly resembles last season’s squad ...

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Special Sections

MV Whisman teachers cite low pay

MV Whisman teachers cite low pay


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
An estimated 75 supporters of higher teacher pay turned out for the Sept. 4 Mountain View Whisman School District board meeting.

Teachers, trustees and administrators are recovering from a dramatic Mountain View Whism...

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Business

Skin rejuvenation studio joins Rancho

Skin rejuvenation studio joins Rancho


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Esthetician Marjan Kashi showcases one of the treatment rooms at her new studio, Pure Serenity Skincare at Rancho Shopping Center. Kashi provides services including microdermabrasion and various light and heat energy the...

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Books

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation


During World War II, Virgilia Short Witzel, a young mother and U.S. Navy officer’s wife, grappled on the home front in Menlo Park with wartime rationing, shortages and loneliness. During the ensuing Cold War, she experienced adventure and misadventur...

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People

JERALD (JERRY) NELSON CHRISTIANSEN

JERALD (JERRY) NELSON CHRISTIANSEN

Resident of San Jose and Los Altos, California

July 21, 1931 to August 4, 2014

Born in Arimo, Idaho, to Jerald Emmett and Rebecca Henderson Nelson Christiansen. Raised in Davis and Riverside, California, with summers in Downey, Idaho, and in Loga...

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Travel

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska


Sandy Powell/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident and bird photographer Sandy Powell recently visited Homer, Alaska, to photograph Sandhill cranes, below. While there, Powell also encountered moose, left.

Los Altos resident Sandy Powell, a...

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Stepping Out

Pear puts on a pair of plays

Pear puts on a pair of plays


J. Smith/Special to the Town Crier
Dan Kapler (as Teddy) and Betsy Kruse Craig (Trish) star in Pear Avenue Theatre’s “House.”

The Pear Avenue Theatre production of two interlocking comedies by Alan Ayckbourn – “House&...

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Spiritual Life

Back to Church Sunday offers opportunity to recommit

The children in Los Altos are back to school, and I can still hear parents cheering. Summer is officially over, even if the calendar doesn’t quite think so.

Parents have attended Back to School nights to meet their children’s teachers. B...

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Magazine

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living


Courtesy of Spectrum Interior Design
In place of a more traditional fireplace, this modern living room features a linear-flame firebox that emits heat while offering a sculpturelike design element.

After traveling the world and visiting a host...

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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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