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News

"Brown is the new green," says local water district


Lina Broydo/Special to the Town Crier
Are downtown Los Altos flower pots getting too much water? The Santa Clara Valley Water District plans to hire “water cops” to discourage overwatering.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District is spending nearl...

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Schools

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers


Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Middle school students make robotic hands using 3-D printers during a STEM Summer Camp at Foothill College.

From designing roller coasters to developing biodegradable plastics, high school students received an i...

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Community

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Businesswomen Joan Mazimhaka of Rwanda, third from left, and Fakhria Ibrahimi of Afghanistan, in orange, traveled to the U.S. with a 26-woman delegation through the Peace Through Business program.

Employees scoop ice ...

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Comment

Moving on: The Rockey Road

Just over a month ago, we decided to put our house on the market. My husband and I had been tossing around the idea of moving back to the area where we grew up, which is only approximately 40 minutes from here. Of course, Los Altos is a great place t...

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Business

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday


ElLie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Armed with blow dryers, Halo founder Rosemary Camposano, left, and store manager Nikki Thomas prepare for the blow-dry bar’s grand opening on First Street Monday.

A blow-dry bar is set to open downtown Monday, and i...

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Books

"Frozen in Time" chronicles harrowing WWII rescue attempts


Many readers can’t resist a true-life adventure story, especially those that shine a spotlight on people who exhibit supreme courage in the face of adversity and end up surviving – or not – against the odds.

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People

DR. ALFRED HUGHES

Long time Los Altos resident, Dr. Alfred Hughes, died May 1st after a long illness. Dr. Hughes was born in 1927 in Maspeth, NY. He served in the US Army from 1945-6, attended Brooklyn Polytechnic University, then graduated from Reed College in Portla...

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Travel

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway


Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton
The Ritz-Carlton in Lake Tahoe offers fall getaway packages that include spa treatments and yoga classes.

Fall in North Lake Tahoe boasts crisp mornings and opportunities to spend quality time in the mountains. Specially ...

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Stepping Out

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn


Town Crier file photo
Local actors rehearse a scene from “The Wizard of Oz.”

Los Altos Youth Theatre and Los Altos Stage Company’s collaborative production of “The Wizard of Oz” is slated to close Sunday at Bus Barn Theater, 97 Hillview Ave.

T...

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Spiritual Life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life


Shaw

Stanford University named the Very Rev. Dr. Jane Shaw, dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, its new dean for religious life.

Provost John Etchemendy announced Shaw’s appointment July 21, adding that she also will join the faculty in...

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Magazine

Festival features fun for everyone

Festival features fun for everyone


TOWN CRIER FILE PHOTO
The Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival boasts more than 375 craft and arts booths.

This weekend’s 35th annual Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival promises to be jam-packed with fun activities for just about everyone. The eve...

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John le Carré’s latest lacks urgency but still absorbs


Photo By:

For readers unfamiliar with author John le Carré, here’s a primer: He is best known for his British Cold War spy novels, including “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold” (Victor Gollancz & Pan, 1963) and “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” (Hodder & Stoughton, 1974). His fictional British intelligence officer, George Smiley, is probably the most famous literary master spy of the past 50 years.

Le Carré has won numerous awards and seen several of his novels turned into movies and miniseries. Since the end of the Cold War, le Carré has concentrated on writing about serious global problems, such as money laundering, terrorism and corporate greed.

In his latest book, “A Delicate Truth” (Viking, 2013), le Carré first describes a secret mission – codenamed “Wildlife” – from the point of view of a mid-level British civil servant, who goes by the alias “Paul.” Wildlife is assigned to capture a dangerous arms smuggler.

Readers then meet a foreign service agent, Toby Bell, who learns about the mission three years later while working for a British cabinet minister. In the meantime, “Paul,” whose real name is Sir Christopher Probyn, has retired. One of the British soldiers involved in the original mission contacts Probyn, claiming that the mission was a fraud, a failure and a tragedy.

What can and should Bell and Probyn do about the truth of Wildlife? What would public disclosure cost each man?

The first half of “A Delicate Truth” is a rather plodding read – a surprise, especially given how quickly le Carré’s earlier books drew me in. The characters aren’t gripping, there are too many holes about Wildlife and the history and exposition of Bell’s service career prove, frankly, boring.

But the second half of the book more than makes up for what’s lacking at the beginning, providing most of the thrills and excitement of le Carré’s earlier novels.

The characters face difficult moral dilemmas, race to uncover the truth and fear for their lives. Familiar le Carré themes happily come into play, such as loyalty to self and truth versus loyalty to duty and country.

Despite the fact that “A Delicate Truth” is well-written and generally absorbing, le Carré’s topics of gun-running and terrorism are simply not as captivating as his earlier Cold War themes, largely because there is not as much at stake.

I recommend “A Delicate Truth” for fiction-oriented book clubs, particularly those that enjoy spy and mystery novels. The average reader, however, may not find it as compelling as le Carré’s earlier works.

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

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