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The Way the Crow Flies

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  13,181 ratings  ·  1,212 reviews
The optimism of the early sixties, infused with the excitement of the space race and the menace of the Cold War, is filtered through the rich imagination of high-spirited, eight-year-old Madeleine, who welcomes her family's posting to a quiet Air Force base near the Canadian border. Secure in the love of her beautiful mother, she is unaware that her father, Jack, is caught ...more
Paperback, 848 pages
Published August 31st 2004 by Harper Perennial (first published 2003)
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Ayesha Well, if someone like me can make it, anyone can, really. I really recommend that you at least try because the book really merits it. You might not li…moreWell, if someone like me can make it, anyone can, really. I really recommend that you at least try because the book really merits it. You might not like everything that happens but you could never think of a way that the book would fit better.
Bottom line? Try, it's really worth it. :)(less)

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Average rating 4.10  · 
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 ·  13,181 ratings  ·  1,212 reviews

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Dorie  - Cats&Books :)
The setting for this story is Centralia, an Air Force base in Canada. We are immediately drawn into the setting of a murder, a girl in a blue dress lying in a field. The following chapters detail the lives of the McCarthy family, Jack is a career officer in the RCAF, his wife Mimi, daughter Madeline and son Mike. It is in the beginning that the narrative drags as we are inundated with details of life in the military. The perfect wives, ready to move at any time, always there with a homemade pie ...more
Dec 03, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
I really loved this book and had to read her previous novel, _Fall On Your Knees_, the minute I finished _The Way the Crow Flies_. One thing that struck me about her writing was the fact that in both books, I came to a place fairly soon in each (maybe a third of the way through?) where she related an event that had me literally sobbing and choking with sadness and anger, and then -- after I blew my nose -- furious at McDonald herself as the author! Both times I felt like putting the book down (n ...more
Mike Smith
Nov 02, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
[Warning: this is a long review, but this complex book merits it.]

This is a long, thoughtful, and multi-layered novel. It was recommended to me as a good depiction of life growing up on Canadian military bases, as I did. And it is. It centres around 8-year-old Madeleine McCarthy, who's on her fourth move in 1962, and her father Jack McCarthy, a Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) officer. The early part of the story is about how the McCarthys, including Madeleine's Acadian mother Mimi and her older
Sep 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
(deep breath) Wow.

#1: writing was really amazing
#2: spot on insight into children's world from child's point of view, along with ability to communicate from child's perspective; if you are a woman, you know that girl, and you may find you were that girl
#3: So many interesting layers; I appreciated the Canadian insecurity, both inward focused (everybody thinks we're lame - and we kind of agree), and outwardly focused (look at what we've done to gain respect, and why don't we have it yet?) I also
Feb 03, 2017 rated it liked it
I wondered whether this was a memoir disguised as a murder mystery, or a memoir injected with a murder mystery in order to hold our interest through 800 plus pages. And yet the murder had to be the pivotal event around which all the other themes hung, and so I concluded that this book could have been halved in size and resulted in a much more impactful novel.

Based on the Steven Truscott case in Canada, the author weaves the events surrounding the real-life murder of a 12 year old girl in 1959 in
Liza Fireman
This book is so so amazing. I decided to rate it 5 stars, but it is actually about 4.5.The only reason that it gets only 4.5 stars is because it is a bit too long and is a slow starter. Other then that it is perfect and would get a perfect score, true 5 stars. The writing style is enchanting, Ann-Marie MacDonald is an outstanding story teller. The characters are portrayed in the most amazing way that I could hope for. The book has a lot of suspense, painful moments, and is told in a very believa ...more
Nov 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: canada, reviewed
"When stories are not told, we risk losing our way. Lies trip us up, lacunae gape like blanks in a footbridge. Time shatters and, though we strain to follow the pieces like pebbles through the forest, we are led farther and farther astray. Stories are replaced by evidence. Moments disconnected from eras. Exhibits plucked from experience.
We forget the consolation of the common thread-the way events are stained with the dye of the stories older than the facts themselves.
We lose our memory.
This can
Jul 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites, audiobook
Probably one of the greatest books i have read in 10 years. So gripping and so 'non-flashy'. Set in Canada, it makes it even more interesting to me, with many plot twists throughout. ...more
Aug 22, 2017 rated it liked it
There is an excellent book hiding somewhere underneath so many unnecessary pages
Oct 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
From my Summer Reading List blog post (May, 2012)
Ann-Marie McDonald – The Way the Crow Flies: By the time I finished this book, I could hardly believe that Ann-Marie McDonald wasn’t one of the most famous and popular writers on the planet. This book is truly a masterpiece in the way that it captures a critical moment in history (the Cuban missile crisis from a Canadian perspective) through the eyes of a witty, naive observer, eight-year-old Madeleine, whose own secrets echo those of her militar
Mar 07, 2008 rated it liked it
What I liked about this book: vivid and well-rounded characters(!), references to pop culture, dialogue in French, intrigue, deception, loyalty, a storybook marriage, historical references, beautiful descriptions of time and place(!), the denouement that left me feeling emotionally exhausted

What I didn't like: some strong language, disturbing scenes of child molestation, the chapters where Madeleine is an adult

I couldn't recommend this book without reservation. However, after plodding through th
Julie Christine
An extraordinary novel. MacDonald brings the early sixties to life with vivid detail. THe characters so well-crafted that you can construct their faces, voices, and shapes as well as any loved one in real life and imagine with clarity how they inhabit their world. The story, so original in plot, is devastating to the reader. You want so much to step in and share what you know to save these characters from such heartache and destruction. A powerful, loving, ingenious novel.
Feb 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This was an amazing book. It is very tragic. The theme and material were hard for me to get through. I had to slow down at times to recover from the tragedy, but I am glad I stuck to it. I also had a hard time "getting into" the book. I was not fond of her style and was not drawn to all the military life details that fill the first part of the book. But, I fell in love with this McCarthy family and I just had to soldier on. Of course her style ending up charming my socks off once I got going.
Solveig C.B.
WOW. Just picked this off the shelf without much consideration and I was completely taken by surprise. Hard book to review as it was such a disturbing subject. I certainly recommend it, but definitely had to limit my reading at times to be able to digest what I was taking in. However, became so close to the main character that I did not want to let go.

Found some parts unneccessarily lengthy. Especially fed up with the road and street references that were continuously repeated.

I also found that
Jan 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I am a fan of a good plot, and I don't think I've ever read one so poetically written, so perfectly timed or so wonderfully crafted as the one "The Way the Crow Flies" presents its readers. Unlike other reviewers who complained about the length of the book or the "pace" of the first 100 pages, I chewed on each word, savoring each paragraph as I would if I were eating a delectable meal. And, like the last bite of a tasty dessert, I sighed as I turned the last page and loosened my belt, feeling fu ...more
Teresa Solomon
Apr 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorites ever. Well-formed characters, descriptive setting and time period, tragic story, and excellent writing overall. Although I enjoyed her other novel, Fall on Your Knees, this one is a notch above it.
Jan 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I would give this book an extra star if I could.
Nov 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020, real-books
19 NOV 2020 - well-written and well-characterized. This novel will touch your soul in ways you did not know were possible. I do recommend it with one reservation - do not allow yourself to be turned away by the number of pages - the book turns the pages itself.
Jun 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book is really incredible. It is rich with history and the prose is beautiful. The real crime case of Canadian Steven Truscott, who was wrongfully incarcerated in Ontario in 1959, is the context on which the plot is built, though, of course, it is a fictionalized version of what happened, and the story contains so much complexity-the mystery that unfolds regarding the crime is only a part of the whole work. But, because the crime involved the sexual assault and murder of a young girl the de ...more
Nov 26, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Adults who appreciate good writing even when the subject matter might be tough to get through
Wow! What a read! I was fascinated by this book. From start to finish, I was captivated by the rich descriptions and character development. Although the subject matter became distasteful at times, I felt I owed it to myself to finish the story, which I am so glad I did. Like real life, the story is unsettling; unresolved; gritty. The way the author intertwined the lives of each character was masterful and often unexpected. I "read" this book on audiocassette which was performed by the author her ...more
Feb 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
This was SO good! A very tragic, but wonderful story of a family and the events that damage them, the secrets that they keep. But the book was so nostalgic, bringing back sweet memories from my childhood. Very enjoyable.
Nate's Bookgroup
Jan 03, 2010 rated it liked it

This book was way too long and I think the editor knew it. The very first page is the description of a scene in which a murder is foretold. The next 350 pages of the book is the meandering build up to the murder scene. Ann-Marie MacDonald leads the reader through rooms involving child molestation, international spydom, elementary school quarrels, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and Nazi refugees. And written like this, I admit it sounds interesting. But all of those topics a
Sarah B.
Jul 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Someone looking for a great summer novel
Recommended to Sarah by: Jordan
Shelves: my-library
I had chosen another novel to bring with me on my 10-day vacation this year, but disappointingly I was done with it by the end of the flight to Calgary (admittedly having skipped 50 pages in the middle). I asked my friend in Calgary for a loaner, telling her I was looking for something she could recommend, preferably Canadian since it's harder to come by Canadian novels at home. She handed me this one, saying it is like a mystery novel but "sad, but really good" which turns out to be a perfect d ...more
Madison Boboltz
Jun 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, 2017
This is one of the best books I've ever read. I'm seriously sitting here wondering how Ann-Marie MacDonald isn't one of the most famous authors of our time. I will definitely be reading Fall on Your Knees in the near future.

It's absolutely heart-wrenching, and you will need to put it down a few times to calm yourself, but it is brilliantly written. The characters are so well developed and the setting is so vivid. I loved every moment in these 810 pages.
Loved this book! It was based on an actual event/murder that took place in Ontario in the mid-20th century. After reading this, I had to research the story!
May 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Beautiful book; not full 4 stars though: too many things: History, psychology, pedophilia, LGBT, self awareness, sense of guilt ... Could have done with less - and some fewer pages as well!!!

"Anyone who wants a quite life should not have been born in the twentieth century" sid Leon Trotsky
As if it could be chosen!!!!

"Can I come up"
"What for"
[...]"I've brought you something" What remains
Story. Yours. Or one like it, in which, as in a pool, you might recognize yourself. Memory. Mixed and multifar
Carolyn Gerk
Jul 17, 2011 rated it liked it
The Way the Crow Flies is not, in my opinion, a 'murder mystery, spy thriller' as is printed on the back of the novel. Yes, there is a murder, a mystery and cold war spy drama, but the most memorable moments, and the majority of the novel, is made up of a coming of age tale and a reflection on morality and lost innocence.
The novel begins with a taste of 'the murder'. Then proceeds to set the scene for a hundred and fifty pages, with no inkling of any murder to come, I kind of forgot what the bo
Feb 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, favorites
"The birds saw the murder. Down below in the new grass, the tiny white bell-heads of the lily of the valley. It was a sunny day. Twig-crackling, early spring stirrings, spring soil smell. April. A stream through the nearby woods, so refreshing to the ear - it would be dry by the end of summer, but for now it rippled through the shade. High in the branches of an elm, that is where the birds were, perched among the many buds set to pleat like fresh hankies."

From the first sentence, the author ha
Aug 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This was a was very sad and at times disturbing story of Madeleine, a young girl that is sexually abused by a teacher in the early 1960's. Her father is an officer in the Canadian Air Force, and is involved in some cold war espionage that he can not divulge to his family. Her mother is a French Canadian with old fashioned depression era sensibilities. Her brother suffers from the burden of many young men, trying to win the approval of his father. They befriend a German family, that they later fi ...more
Sep 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
This one took a while to read, obviously due to the length, but also because I was dreading what I knew was coming. It was one of those books that's just so sad...It makes me wonder how many secrets people carry with them and how the smallest lie can change everything. Also, I like her writing style, the way she switches perspectives, and the look into a life of an air force family.

"If you move around all your life, you can't find where you come from on a map. All those places where you lived ar
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Around the World: Canada - Suzanne recommends: The Way the Crow Flies 4 32 Oct 01, 2011 09:56PM  

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Ann-Marie MacDonald is a Canadian playwright, novelist, actor and broadcast journalist who lives in Toronto, Ontario. The daughter of a member of Canada's military, she was born at an air force base near Baden-Baden, West Germany.

MacDonald won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for her first novel, Fall on Your Knees, which was also named to Oprah Winfrey's Book Club.

She received the Governor General'

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