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The Way the Crow Flies

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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 up in a web of secrets. When a very local murder intersects with global forces, Jack must decide where his loyalties lie, and Madeleine will be forced to learn a lesson about the ambiguity of human morality -- one she will only begin to understand when she carries her quest for the truth, and the killer, into adulthood twenty years later.

848 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2003

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About the author

Ann-Marie MacDonald

22 books1,123 followers
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's Award for Literary Merit, the Floyd S. Chalmers Canadian Play Award and the Canadian Author's Association Award for her play, Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet).

She also appeared in the films I've Heard the Mermaids Singing and Better Than Chocolate, among others.

Her 2003 novel, The Way the Crow Flies, was partly inspired by the Steven Truscott case.

She also hosted the CBC Documentary series Life and Times from 1996 to 2007.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AnnMarieMacD...

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,316 reviews
Profile Image for Dorie  - Cats&Books :).
993 reviews2,780 followers
May 21, 2020
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 for the newcomers, the perfect children, the successful soldiers in high offices. While interesting I think this might have been accomplished with leaner dialogue.

By mid book the plot becomes more intricate as Madeline is one of a group of fourth graders who are being molested by their teacher, kept a secret from her parents. Jack is involved in a plot to bring in and hide a Nazi scientist who is defecting to the United States to help them win the race to the moon. There are a multitude of interesting characters introduced including the Frolich family; Henry, a teacher at the base school, his wife and several children. In addition there is an American family, Captain McCarroll along with his wife and daughter Claire who will play a significant part in further chapters. This case is enriched with Ms. MacDonald's artistically detailed character sketches.

The last third of the book moves at a rapid pace keeping the reader quickly turning pages. This book has it all, love, mystery, patriotism, growth and the ability of the human spirit to endure and flourish.

I would highly recommend this book to readers of literary fiction with an aside to "hang in there" during the first chapters, you will be richly rewarded.
Profile Image for Gizmology.
22 reviews10 followers
December 4, 2007
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 (no, more like thowing it violently) and going straight to Google to find an address to write to her so that I could say, "You just can't do that to your characters! That's so needlessly, gratuitously awful that I can't stand it! I will not read any more!"

Fortunately, both times I just couldn't feel right about leaving the story at that horrible point and picked the books up again to read a few more pages. And both times I was rewarded to find that there was a kind of recovery, and a literary justification and resolution for the horribleness inflicted, so I was glad I hadn't stopped before I got there. The second part of _Crow_, especially, which catches up with the little girl as an adult, was really well-connected. I was put off by the jump at first (just as I had been with the painful shock earlier in the book -- McDonald *does* that), but ended up really admiring the way that she connected the older woman with the young girl -- you could see them both in each age, sometimes obviously, and sometimes very subtly.

Anyway, I definitely recommend this book, with this admonition to reactionary readers such as myself: "Don't throw it against the wall! Just keep going and you'll get through the agony to reach the understanding!" (Hmm...I guess that's good advice in many circumstances, eh? ;)
Profile Image for Paul Weiss.
1,224 reviews169 followers
October 6, 2022
“Ah … what’s up doc?”

There is simply so much to unpack in THE WAY THE CROW FLIES, that it’s all but impossible to imagine the author actually managed to weave it into a credible novel that made sense – a Canadian Air Force teaching base; the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban missile crisis; MI6, British espionage and control of the defection of a Soviet scientist through Canada to NASA; the hot and heavy final stages of the space race between the USA and the USSR; a Jewish survivor from an underground Nazi labour camp; sexual assault, pedophilia, child rape and ultimately murder; the mistreatment of children at aboriginal residential schools; the clash between Parisian, Québécois and Métis variations of French; cerebral palsy; Canadian volunteers to the American armed forces who served in Vietnam; homophobia, homosexuality, bisexuality and lesbianism; the production of ad lib and staged stand-up comedy; military families and children; Diefenbaker’s political mishandling of Canada’s alliance with the US during their stand-off against Khruschev; the cuteness, friendship, brattiness, aloofness, and animosity arising between young girls in school and at play; the grooming tactics of a sexual predator; a murder investigation, a gripping trial and a life sentence based on a wrongful conviction (riffing on the real life Ontario story of Stephen Truscott’s murder trial); and more.

More power to Ann-Marie MacDonald. Although THE WAY THE CROW FLIES comes perilously close to flying off the rails on a couple of occasions, most notably during the collapse of the main protagonist’s lesbian relationship and her ultimate coming to grips with the understanding that her friend had been wrongfully convicted, the story ultimately holds together and closes with a tense and surprising conclusion. Whether or not that conclusion is satisfactory is a decision that will have to be left to individual readers.

Canadian readers who are old enough to have lived through the events in MacDonald’s tale will be thrilled to see that her novel is positively awash in cultural references – song lyrics, cartoon quotes, current events, place names and location descriptions, references to television shows and movies. What an experience to be transported back in time so completely by weird and wonderful memories being hauled to the surface that my own life had buried so deep for so long!

Definitely recommended.

Paul Weiss
Profile Image for Mike Smith.
459 reviews15 followers
November 3, 2011
[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 brother Mike, settle into their new home at RCAF Station Centralia, in central Ontario. Author MacDonald captures very well what it's like moving all the time, setting up in yet another military-supplied house. I've been there and done that and I'll attest to the accuracy. She explains the lifestyle better than I could.

MacDonald writes that when you move all the time, you're not from anywhere that you can locate on a map; you're from a series of events. You define yourself by stories -- what she calls "remember-whens" -- not by home towns. And stories are what I think this book is really about. We tell stories to ourselves to make sense of our pasts. We tell stories to each other. We tell stories at a community or cultural level to make sense of our world. And often, we only know part of anyone else's story.

In addition, we sometimes lie to each other, and even to ourselves, to hide unpleasant truths. Stories and lies drive this novel. Madeleine tells lies to protect her parents from knowing how things are in her Grade 4 class. Jack tells lies to protect the secrecy of a military-intelligence operation he's involved in. And society tells itself lies, or at least omits part of history, to justify actions that are at best unethical and at worst criminal. Throw in post-war World War II optimism and Cold War paranoia, and almost every character in this story is deceived by someone about something. Only the reader knows what's going on, and even we can't be totally sure we have the whole story.

Near the half-way mark, all these stories and lies run against the murder of a child, which is announced on the first page, but not fully recounted until much later. The murder is highly reminiscent of the Stephen Truscott case, which MacDonald acknowledges. Jack and Madeleine both have information that is pertinent. One of them must decide whether to lie, and the other must decide whether to tell the truth. Their decisions have consequences that they must both live with. Nearly 20 years later, the story picks up with Madeleine and Jack having to confront and relive the decisions they made then, and update their stories.

The novel is very well-written, with every word carefully chosen. The whole story is told in the present tense, which gives it an immediacy that makes it very compelling. It is, in short, a page-turner. It is very long, however; over 720 pages. Occasional flashbacks and flash-forwards are also in the present tense, which can be a bit confusing, but it's generally easy to adjust. The first portion, dealing with life on the RCAF station, is slow-moving but still engrossing. The pace picks up with the murder trial and its aftermath. This is a sad, disturbing tale. While there are moments of childhood joy and silliness, the events are, on the whole, demoralizing. This is not a feel-good story, but there are one or two deeply moving scenes that remind us what the real point is: it's all about love.
Profile Image for David.
83 reviews11 followers
August 23, 2017
There is an excellent book hiding somewhere underneath so many unnecessary pages
Profile Image for Shannon.
70 reviews
September 5, 2009
(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 appreciated the layer that asks, "what is bravery", and challenges your preconcieved notions of who will be brave.
#4: Why is it that so many stories with strong little girls wind up with them being molested?
#5: I thoroughly enjoyed the book and thought I knew "who dunit" until that last 30 pages, then I realized I was actually reading a horror story, where I wound up going from practically comfortable to practically puking in about 5 minutes. It was that powerful.

Some of the most thoroughly best overall writing I have experienced in some time. Some folks get the atmosphere, and some folks get the characters - this woman gets 'em both. Atwood's got competition on my bookshelf.
Profile Image for Shane.
Author 11 books252 followers
February 7, 2017
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 into her fictional story set in 1963 in a similar armed forces base near London, Ontario.

Much of the novel focuses on life in the 1960’s in the military, and this is where the memoir aspect comes in, for the author too was raised on a military base around that period. The minutia of daily life replete with barbecues, picnics, schoolyard banter and family dinners are covered in excruciating and often repetitious detail. During this time men worked and women stayed home to raise families. The fundamental issue concerning everyone is the Bomb and its threat of nuclear war. Two story lines weave in and out of each other: the adult story of Jack McCarthy, newly posted to Canadian Air Force Base Centralia, and the child story of his daughter Madeleine who has to face the predators lurking in the adult world. Jack is a decorated airman who never saw combat in WWII and who is chafing under the fact that he was cashiered out due to an accident on the eve of going to the battle front. Madeleine is trying hard to understand adults like her teacher Mr. March who gets her to do “exercises’ after school, exercises that include fondling and strangling certain intimate body parts. Other subplots and characters are woven in: a defector from the Soviet Union who was part of the V2 rocket program during WWII and who provides an opportunity for Jack to do something meaningful for his country; a refugee from the same program and his family of adopted Metis kids now living on the base; and the lives of the inhabitants of the PMQs (Permanent Married Quarters), not always harmonious despite the all-expenses-paid lifestyles they have.

When the murder of the 12 year-old Claire, Madeleine’s classmate, takes place in the vicinity of the base, the lives of this close-knit group are thrown into chaos with the fallout taking many generations to heal. Fifteen-year-old Ricky Froelich, son of the refugee, is arrested and charged with the murder; his father mysteriously vanishes; Madeleine becomes a key witness and is forced to confront what telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth is all about; and Jack is faced with a concealing a secret to support the greater good. Justice is miscarried in the interest of expediency. Years later Madeleine and Jack are still dealing with trying to reconcile the murder- she through therapy and he through multiple heart attacks. In the end, with a brilliant plot twist we discover whodunit.

Several points are made in the novel:
a) In life, often the guilty escape while the innocent are punished
b) Childhood is a scary time
c) Children can commit evil if conditioned by adults
d) The price of suppression is the breakdown of health
e) Sexual abuse destroys and distorts lives forever
f) Canada may have been the destination of the Underground Railway for runaway US slaves in the 19th century but it was also the starting point of another Underground Railway for eastern bloc defectors going the other way.

Given the political and social backdrop that this story plays out against, the authorial voice intrudes constantly making comments, observations and explanations that could have been excised to let the events speak for themselves. There is a also a great deal of repetition of quotidian events that does nothing to advance the story and maintain narrative thrust, and this is annoying.

After reading MacDonald’s first novel Fall on Your Knees and the blurbs on this her second novel, I was expecting an engaging thrill-ride. Instead I found a good book burdened with excessive writing, whose editor had taken a back seat in light of the fame the author had received from her debut.
Profile Image for Zuzulivres.
336 reviews96 followers
January 17, 2022
Hneď na začiatku roka som si dala výzvu v podobe vyše 900 stranovej knihy, ktorú som prečítala oveľa rýchlejšie ako som si myslela. Spočiatku som si vravela, že čo niekto potrebuje napísať na toľkých stranách, ale v konečnom dôsledku mi bolo ľúto, keď som knihu dočítavala. Možno by si niektoré časti zaslúžili trošku skrátiť, možno o nejakých sto strán, ale inak autorka presne vie, prečo tú ktorú časť napísala. Úprimne povedané som "padla na kolená" už druhý raz, pretože už autorkina prvotina (Padněte na kolena) ma dostala. Keď si celý čas myslíte, že viete ako to bolo, tak Ann-Marie MacDonald vám ukáže ako veľmi ste sa mýlili.

Odporúčam iba trpezlivým a skúseným čitateľom, nie fanúšikom lacného mainstremu.

Kniha Kam létají vrány je mistrovskou kronikou novodobej histórie Kanady (60´s) v kontexte kľúčových udalostí v našom svete, ale predovšetkým hlboko presvedčivým príbehom ľudského utrpenia, viny a neviny, vyrovnávania sa s tieňmi minulosti, nezdolnosti a hojivej sily lásky.

"Strach je nezbytný předpoklad odvahy."

"Když zemře rodič, zmizí celá planeta, a noční obloha už nikdy nebude vypadat stejně. A nezáleží na tom, jak moc jsme dospělí, když se nám to stane. A když ztratíme oba, je to, jako kdybychom navždycky přišli o stálou střechu nad hlavou – neviditelný štít, první obranná linie mezi námi a smrtelností, je nenávratně pryč. "

Profile Image for Liza Fireman.
839 reviews144 followers
July 5, 2019
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 believable way. The plot is developing, and so the reader gets to uncover the horror behind the events page by page.

This is a story about Madeleine and her family. Her father Jake, her mother Mimi and her brother Mike. They live in a small town in Canada called Centralia, an Air Force base. We get to know other little girls, Elizabeth on the wheelchair, Marjorie and her sick mother, Grace and her issues, Colleen and her brother Nick. One of the topics in this book is the cold war, and there is another big black secret, that is happening in the four walls of the school.

You will find a German spy, a Jewish holocaust surviver, one very important teacher, and one little girl in the heart of the mystery. One year, full of events that not a single one of the participants will be able to forget, and that each and every one of them will be affected by for the rest of their lives.

The book ends when Madeleine is older, she is thirty two and finally understands some of what happened to them twenty plus years earlier. I would say more, but every word can be a spoiler.
4.5 stars rounded to 5. Planning on reading other books by this talented author.
Profile Image for Matt.
3,730 reviews12.8k followers
July 28, 2011
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.
Profile Image for BrokenTune.
750 reviews202 followers
January 16, 2015
"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 make a person ill.
This can make a world ill."

When I first picked up this book, I read the description and the tags and labels that people had pinned on it. When I first looked at this book, I did not think I'd ever read this.

What persuaded me to read it was that MacDonald's first book was written so well that I wanted to see how she would tell the story of The Way the Crow Flies.

But how can you tell this story of the murder of a child - even if the story is partly based of the real life case of Steven Truscott? How can you tell of the lies and secrets that unravel the lives of everyone involved? Of the naivety of the individuals that condemn evil and, yet, at the same fail to see that it is their own simple-mindedness that fuels the travesty of justice that ensues?

MacDonald tells it masterfully. She uses imagery and language that packs a punch. Never overly evocative or manipulative, she shows each story from the characters point of view - and this at times makes you want to stop reading and jump in and shake the person. At other times, this makes you draw the book in closer and cling to every page to find out what happens next.

The Way the Crow Flies is, however, not only the story of a community torn apart by the murder. The book goes deeper. Whilst the books' main character, Madeleine, tries to deal with the events in her own life - events which she feels she cannot speak of, which she feels she needs to protect her family from -, her father, Jack, becomes entangled in a cold war scientific espionage plot in aid of the West's race to the moon.
A boys' own adventure, which in turn will make him question everything he believes in. But to what end? And while he is keen to teach his daughter that the truth must be told, is he mature enough to take responsibility for the consequences?

On another level, MacDonald draws out the individual dilemmas against a historical context - not just the backdrop of the Cold War, but also that of the Second World War - paralleling the space race to the development of the V2 and the atomic bomb. All are inextricably linked through the people that were involved. However, this link creates an issue - How can the same people be working for opposing ideologies?

"But he has enough - his children have enough - to cope with, never mind taking on the past. To report this man would not only be futile; it would be to exhume what is cold and can never heal. To haunt his new family with the inconsolable griefs of his old one."

The book does not try to answer this question but offers serious food for thought. Because the stories, or rather the secrets of both, father and daughter, are bound to test their ideals, their perception of each other and of the world.

"This precious mess. Democracy. How much can be done in its name before, like an egg consumed by a snake, it becomes a mere shell?"

Without knowing of each other's secrets, both main characters are wounded in the process. Are they able to heal?

The Way the Crow Flies has seriously impressed me. MacDonald has not only written a mystery, a political thriller, and a court room drama all in one, she also created a deep and complex psychological tour de force that questions whether the reality we perceive always ties up with the facts and how this reality changes as we mature. Individuals are defined by their story unless they take action to confront it.

Nina says: "Fear isn't the opposite of courage."
"It's the prerequisite to courage."

Review originally posted on BookLikes: http://brokentune.booklikes.com/post/...
Profile Image for Arryn.
201 reviews7 followers
March 7, 2008
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 the first 100 pages, I found myself both riveted and horrified by what I was reading. The writing is at times stunning and evocative, but often so disturbing I had to put the book down. The last third of the book moves much too slowly and doesn't effectively move the plot forward, but the resolution of the murder was both surprising and satisfying (albeit awful).
Profile Image for Beth.
Author 1 book31 followers
October 27, 2012
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 military father. A further gift of the novel is the opportunity to observe Madeleine some twenty years later as she visits her therapist and struggles to process the events of her childhood. Truly remarkable. (I just have to add that McDonald’s first book, Fall on Your Knees, is almost equally as awesome. These are books I wish I hadn’t read so I could read them again for the first time!)
Profile Image for Kerry.
805 reviews94 followers
December 2, 2014
Decided to try one of Good Reads recommendations. Was a little daunted by the book's length but that would be the only negative comment I could make. And at the end I was sorry to leave this great narrator and the story she told. This is a wonderful read. A mystery is the nugget in the middle but more it is a coming of age tale, a coming of age and a loss of innocence for each of the characters in different ways. The secrets hidden and revealed, the ones we carry, the times we wish we could do over, the ones we hurt, deceive all in the hope to protect others and save ourselves. This could have been a very depressing story but somehow it circled this at times but mostly I found it realistic and woven together so well I could only admire it even when the content was disturbing, sad and sometimes frightening. Can't wait to try another of the recommendations.. Plan to go back and read this author's first book also.
Profile Image for Julie.
Author 6 books1,767 followers
July 12, 2008
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.
Profile Image for Roseb612.
442 reviews61 followers
November 15, 2016
Jeden z adeptů na letošní knihu roku - strhující kniha s košatým příběhem, kde nakonec všechno souvisí se vším, na pozadí děje běží velké dějiny, a to vše ještě odvyprávěno z několika perspektiv - čili přesně můj šálek čaje.

O tu detektivní rovinu ve finále v knize vůbec nejde, byť tedy to rozuzlení jsem moc nečekala. Tohle je kniha o důvěře, zklamání, vině a slepé víře v menší zlo; kniha o cestě do pekel dlážděné dobrými předsevzetími a také o tom, že i to nejlepší v nás se může pokazit, ani nevíme vlastně jak. A v druhé polovině pak také o snaze se se vším tím vyrovnat - pokusit se spasit svou duši. Velmi silná kniha, a byť jsou některé centrální motivy hodně obehrané (zneužívání dětí, homosexualita atd.) a jsem na ně již trochu alergická, tak tady mělo všechno své místo a nic z toho nebylo samoúčelné.

Na to, jak je kniha objemná, tak se čte opravdu velmi dobře, byť je to ten typ "pomalé" knihy - vše plyne v poklidu, rozvláčně, se spoustou odboček, ale ty se buď v ději někdy vrátí nebo dokreslují atmosféru - prostě jsem se nenudila z těch všech stránek ani jednu. A to jak si autorka pohrála s identitou dětské oběti je opravdu promyšlené - takže prosím žádné listování knihou, ani čtení konce dopředu - připravíte se o tu nejistotu, která ale knize jen přidává.

Opravdu výjimečná kniha a tentokrát bez zaváhání plný počet hvězdiček. A jdu si pořídit vlastní exemplář :-)

Kontext: Knížku jsme měla půjčenou z knihovny, už jsem ji chtěla vrátit, protože jsem si říkala, že za tři týdny, co mi zbývají do konce dvakrát prodloužené výpůjční doby, těch 900 stran nepřečtu, ale nakonec jsem si řekla, že to zkusím - a ejhle, ono mi na to stačilo něco přes týden.

První věta: "Ptáci tu vraždu viděli."

Poslední věta:
11 reviews
February 27, 2009
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.
It is intricately woven and deeply affecting. I loved how the 2 stories paralleled and mirrored each other and then wove themselves together in the end. This woman is amazing. Her use of epitaph (I think that's what they're called) is fantastic. And the intimacy she creates around the main character, Madeleine, is mesmerizing. I highly recommend this book, but I warn that the theme and subject are difficult at times. I, personally do not do well with this sort of thing, but I made it, and I'm glad I did.

Profile Image for Solveig C.B..
20 reviews
August 2, 2011
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 the transition to the present was not as smooth. The rhythm of the language and character changed quite a lot from what we were acquainted to in the major part of the story.

Aside of its disturbing story, I was thrilled by the level of insight given to the time-period. MacDonald did her research thoroughly and it truly set the tone and atmosphere of the post war/cold war period. It threw me off some of the twists that the story took at the end.

Profile Image for Jenn.
61 reviews2 followers
January 23, 2009
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 full after having read the tales of the McCarthy family.
Profile Image for Teresa Solomon.
110 reviews4 followers
April 25, 2009
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.
Profile Image for Wanda.
629 reviews
November 20, 2020
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.
Profile Image for Siv30.
2,340 reviews121 followers
April 22, 2019
"צער חדש מחריד מרבצו צער ישן. אנחנו באים להתאבל אצל אותה באר, ובכל פעם היא מלאה יותר."

בשנת 1962 מגיעה משפחת מקארתי לבסיס חיל האויר סנטראליה שבקנדה. אב - ג'ק טייס לא פעיל, האם - מימי עקרת בית ושני ילדיהם מייק ומדלן בת ה- 9. מלחמת העולם השניה הסתיימה ואחרי שירות של כעשור באדמת אירופה, זה בדיוק הזמן הנכון לחזור לקנדה. מה שהמשפחה אינה יודעת הוא, ששנת השירות הזו של ג'ק בסנטראליה תשנה את חייהם לנצח ותותיר בהם משקעים עמוקים שעימם יאלצו להתמודד במהלך שני העשורים הבאים.

שני שלישי מהספר מתארים את האירועים בשנת השירות והשהות של המשפחה בסנטראליה. התיאור נע בין נקודת מבטה של מדלן בת ה -9 ובין נקודת הראות של מספר יודע כל, שאינו חושף בפני הקורא את כל הפרטים שמצויים בידיו. השליש האחרון של הספר עוסק במה שנותר מחייהם של הדמויות ובהתמודדות שלהן עם האירועים בשני העשורים הבאים.

בגאוניות וביד אמן הסופרת טווה פסטורליה אידילית. כשהקורא נמצא עמוק בתוך הפסטורליה המשפחתית הזו, היא מתחילה להתערער. קודם באירועים קטנים ולא משמעותיים כך שקצב היווצרות הסדקים איטי, אבל עם התקדמות הספר לקראת עמוד 180 הסדקים מעמיקים ואז בקצב מסחרר הם הופכים לבורות אותם לא יהיה ניתן לטייח.

הספר מורכב, איטי ומתגמל. בחלק האחרון שלו לא הפסקתי לדמוע. מעבר לתיאור התקופתי שאותו הסופרת מקפידה לטוות ביד אמן (משבר הטילים בקובה, מרוץ החלל, המלחמה הקרה ומלחמת ויאטנם), במרכז העלילה עומד סיפורה האישי של משפחת מקארתי ובפרט של מדלן. כדי לא להרוס למי שמתכוון לקרוא את הספר יתר הפרטים יהיו בספויילר.

ספר נפלא, שלא זוכים לקרוא הרבה כמותו במהלך החיים.
Profile Image for Kathryn.
75 reviews6 followers
July 20, 2011
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 details in the story related to that are really disturbing to read-so much so that I didn't know if I could continue to read this novel at about 200 pages into it. I am truly glad that I did. Ann Marie Macdonald is an amazing writer-I loved her novel Fall On Your Knees, which I read a couple of years ago-also containing dark and disturbing content. The writing reminds me of Margaret Atwood and Toni Morrison. Dark, twisted, important stories about the lives of girls and women amidst the paradoxical beauty of life, relationships, and the natural world. All of the richness of the natural world as described as becomes this redemptive backdrop to the stories-it's such a necessary resting place-ingeniously providing hope and, I guess, courage. There were so many passages in this book that were breathtakingly beautiful (i am overusing that word, wise, and insightful. I wanted to extract them and send them to my sisters, my mother, and remember them forever. Also, the historical time period that this novel covers is fascinating; what an important transition in society and politics. I appreciated the perspective on the U.S. government's policies and actions during this time told through a Canadian lens.
Profile Image for Kerry.
16 reviews5 followers
November 27, 2007
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 herself. Without the larger than life character portrayals and impressions, I'm not sure I would have responded so well to it. Two weeks and another book later, I still find myself thinking about the lives and the tragedies revealed. Secrets, lies, good intentions, and how we cope with it all are examined, and somehow, found justifiable as just a part of life; just a part of what it is to be human. I look forward to reading it again to see how it impacts me then and what other insightful tidbits I can gleam.
Profile Image for Michelegg.
1,113 reviews60 followers
February 5, 2009
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.
26 reviews1 follower
January 4, 2010

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 are told through the eyes of a 9 year old who doesn't quite understand.

Interspersed through the narrative are occasional jumps to the murder scene, in which the reader gets time to formulate a motive and suspect. The author is very skilled at leading the reader along the wrong path. Too skilled, I'd say, because if this weren't my book group book I would have stopped reading it about 500 pages in thinking that I knew the who/what/where/when. I think the editor felt the same way, otherwise the murder narratives wouldn't be necessary. The plot would just propel you through the evidence of the case.

After the murder was revealed (I was right about who got killed, by the way, thus adding to my "I can see right through this plot" feeling I had), the plot was more solid and focused. I flew through pp. 350 - 600, really really good stuff. Then in the six hundreds somewhere you hit a chapter that reintroduced Madeleine, the lead character, as an adult. You learn of her hinted at lesbianism and the outcome of her parent's marraige after moving from Centralia, Ontario. She's screwed up, she's leaving her girlfriend for another woman. Honestly, I didn't need all this explication.

Round about p. 725, McDonald starts to reapply the circumstantial evidence of the case and the reader learns their assumed culprit had a solid alibi. You read the main characters findings of the case after she starts researching evidence about 30 years after the incident had taken place and find out the true story of that murderous night. Very well done. I was completely wrong about thinking I knew the mystery at p. 200. The clues planted all along the way that the obvious suspect was not the killer are perfectly fitting in hindsight. Really beautifully told, I just wish I hadn't had to wade through 400 pages of red herrings to find out I was wrong.
Profile Image for Sarah B..
217 reviews17 followers
July 14, 2014
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 description of this book.

I fell into it immediately (vacation reading is great that way), fell in love with the main character, and couldn't put it down. I was so pulled-in that when bad things started happening, I had a strong emotional reaction, and I realized that I really wanted the book to go on for the next 600 pages without changing. But I am grateful to MacDonald, first for the gift creating characters I cared about so much, and then for having the bravery to take them on their full path. This is one of those books that leaves me in awe of the great gulf between talented writers and the talent-less (like myself). Here is an example of MacDonald's prose:
When you look closely, however, you can see that they all have the thing in their eye. The result of an accident or a gift. Perhaps God dropped each of them on the head before they were born. Light seems to reflect at an odd angle from their irises -- the visible effect, possibly, of information that, having entered the brain obliquely, exits the eye at a corresponding tilt. Something, at some point, smote or stroked them. Each lives in genial terror of being found out and exposed as a fraud. Each his fuelled by a combustible blend of exuberance and self-loathing, informed by a mix of savvy and gullibility. None was cool in high school. Denizens of the great in-between of belonging and not belonging; dwellers in the cracks of sidewalks; stateless citizens of the world; strangers among us, familiar to all. Comedians. These are Madeleine's people. [p. 609 of the paperback]

In addition to loving this book for its characters and plot, I loved all the references to things from my childhood, like Nana Mouskouri glasses and Wink soda. It made me feel even more at home while being at home. I'll be looking out for more by this author.
Profile Image for Tereza M.
313 reviews41 followers
September 23, 2016
Už jsem myslela, že dřív umřu, než to konečně dočtu! Ale podařilo se a asi to za to stálo. I když teda, klidně by to mohlo mít o 400 stránek méně.
Prvních asi 300 nebo 400 stran se vlastně nic nedělo, jen se budovala atmosféra a utíkala padesátá léta. Ale pak to přišlo a bylo to zajímavé a smutné. Asi jsem čekala něco jiného.
Ke konci už jsem to skoro vzdala, ale čekala jsem, jak celý příběh Madeleine dopadne. A musím říct... Že jsem to nečekala.
Pro milovníky dlouhých a tlustých knih báječný kus. V postavách jsem se neztrácela ani přes jejich vysoké množství, příběh poklidně a nenápadně děsivě plynul. Počítám, že napsat ho bylo na úrovni životního díla.
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