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News

Loyola Corners economics, traffic rise to top of planning concerns

Loyola Corners economics, traffic rise to top of planning concerns

Alicia Castro/Town Crier
Loyola Bridge construction parallel to the Fremont Avenue frontage may lead officials to alter circulation plans for the area.

Loyola Corners stakeholders last week mulled the issues that will likely shape the area&rsquo...

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Schools

LAHS Green Team commemorates Earth Week

LAHS Green Team commemorates Earth Week


Traci Newell/Town Crier
Los Altos High School Green Team members, above, quiz their classmates about water conservation. The club distributed plants as prizes during the club’s Earth Week activities.

Members of the Los Altos High School Green...

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Community

Local pianist, 11, slated to perform Saturday at statewide competition

Local pianist, 11, slated to perform Saturday at statewide competition


Courtesy of the Cha family
Spencer Cha plays piano at a Santa Clara University recital. The sixth-grader also enjoys soccer, tennis, golf and skiing.

Spencer Cha has come a long way since he first sat down at the piano at age 2.

“I remem...

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Sports

Spartans net second place, eye top prize next season

Spartans net second place, eye top prize next season


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Jeremy Hsu, Mountain View High’s top singles player, competes against Pinewood Thursday. The Spartans won the match 7-0.

With freshmen playing the top three spots in singles, the future of the Mountain View High boy...

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Comment

Los Altos at a leadership crossroads: Editorial

Don’t look now, but there could be some major changes ahead regarding how the Los Altos city government is run.

The current city council has the opportunity to hire a new city manager in the wake of Marcia Somers’ recent resignation. Fur...

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Special Sections

How to personalize the wedding bar

How to personalize the wedding bar


Christine Moore/Special to the Town Crier
A seasonal signature cocktail adds interest beyond the standard wedding bar’s spirits and mixers. Focus on one set of fresh ingredients, such as blueberries, blackberries and mint for a dose of budget...

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Business

Farmers prepare to market season's bounty

Farmers prepare to market season's bounty


Alicia Castro/Town Crier
Journeyman farmer Jen Friedlander waters Hidden Villa’s greenhouse plants, which will grow stronger in the controlled indoor environment before being transferred to the field outdoors.

Around Hidden Villa, the gree...

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People

BUOL JOANNE DOUGHERTY

BUOL JOANNE DOUGHERTY

1930-2016

Heaven gained a beautiful angel today. Our beloved mother’s blessed life ended in her Los Altos home surrounded by her loving family on April 18, 2016.

Buol Joanne Dougherty was born Sept. 28, 1930 in Chicago. At the age of two, M...

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Stepping Out

'Catch' comes to conclusion LA Stage Co. comedy  ends run this weekend

'Catch' comes to conclusion LA Stage Co. comedy ends run this weekend


Richard Mayer/Special to the Town Crier
Bryan Moriarty, left, stars as Yossarian and John Stephen King plays the Psychiatrist in Los Altos Stage Company’s “Catch-22.”

Los Altos Stage Company’s presentation of “Catch...

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Spiritual Life

‘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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