Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Way the Crow Flies” as Want to Read:
The Way the Crow Flies
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Way the Crow Flies

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  11,539 Ratings  ·  1,064 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)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Way the Crow Flies, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Pureokie Such an amazing book. You can feel the characters. I did have to keep stopping because you feel this story. I know I keep saying "feel", but every…moreSuch an amazing book. You can feel the characters. I did have to keep stopping because you feel this story. I know I keep saying "feel", but every step is worth the read.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
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
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.
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
Nov 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Roseb612 by: Bosorka
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 nev
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 t
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
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.
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.
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
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
Rebecca McNutt
This book follows the story of a young girl growing up in the military village of Centralia, Ontario, during the Sixties. Fueled by nostalgia and by the "race to space" theme, this Canadian mystery is detailed, exciting and evocative.

P.S: Did you know that North America has a Centralia Triangle? Centralia Ontario has a Centralia on either side of it further down the map. One is in Washington, the other is in Pennsylvania. Weird, eh?
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.
Jan 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I would give this book an extra star if I could.
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
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
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
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: favorites, fiction
"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
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
Oct 28, 2009 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tereza M
Sep 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Madison Boboltz
Jun 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017, favorites
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.
Suzanne Arcand
Nov 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Very seldom do we get both a mystery and a well written, intelligent novel in the same book.
Sarah Pundt
Dec 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Wow. Just wow.......
Saleh MoonWalker
Onvan : The Way the Crow Flies - Nevisande : Ann-Marie MacDonald - ISBN : 60586370 - ISBN13 : 9780060586379 - Dar 848 Safhe - Saal e Chap : 2003
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Historical Fiction At It's Best 12 87 Sep 03, 2013 03:33PM  
Around the World: Canada - Suzanne recommends: The Way the Crow Flies 4 30 Oct 01, 2011 09:56PM  
  • The Colony of Unrequited Dreams
  • All That Matters
  • Kit's Law
  • Mercy Among the Children
  • The Russländer
  • Traplines
  • Random Passage (Random Passage, #1)
  • The Cure for Death by Lightning
  • The Stone Carvers
  • Clara Callan
  • Holding Still For As Long As Possible
  • The Piano Man's Daughter
  • A Jest of God
  • River Thieves
  • The Tiger Claw
  • Rockbound
  • Larry's Party
  • Heave
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'
More about Ann-Marie MacDonald

Fiction Deals

  • Mercy Among the Children
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Take Me with You
    $4.49 $1.99
  • The Diver's Clothes Lie Empty
    $7.49 $1.99
  • The Traveler's Gift: Seven Decisions that Determine Personal Success
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Little Giant of Aberdeen County
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Her Sister's Shoes (Sweeney Sisters #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Rock Harbor Collection: Without a Trace, Beyond a Doubt, Into the Deep, Cry in the Night, and Silent Night (Rock Harbor #1-5)
    $5.99 $1.99
  • A Thousand Tomorrows (Cody Gunner, #1)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Shoeless Joe
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Death in Venice
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Blonde
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Ever After (Lost Love, #2)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Rescue
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Lords of Discipline
    $17.99 $1.99
  • The Sheltering Sky
    $10.99 $1.99
  • Gena/Finn
    $13.99 $1.99
  • A Charles Martin Collection: When Crickets Cry, Chasing Fireflies, and Wrapped in Rain
    $14.99 $3.99
  • Remember Tuesday Morning (9/11, #3)
    $8.99 $1.99
  • The Scavenger's Daughters (Tales of the Scavenger's Daughters #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Under the Udala Trees
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Streets Have No King
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Passion
    $11.00 $1.99
  • The Language of Hoofbeats
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Not Perfect: A Novel
    $5.99 $1.99
  • The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Seekers (Kent Family Chronicles, #3)
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Don Quixote
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Essex Serpent
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Storycatcher
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Domestic Violets
    $9.24 $1.99
  • The Devil Wears Prada
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Half a Heart
    $4.99 $2.49
  • The Keeper of Secrets: A Novel
    $9.24 $1.99
  • A Garden of Earthly Delights (Wonderland Quartet, #1)
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Golden Notebook
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Life of Christ
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Good Mother
    $5.74 $1.99
  • The Palest Ink (Tales of the Scavenger's Daughters Prequel)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Go: A Coming of Age Novel
    $4.99 $1.99
  • As Close to Us as Breathing: A Novel
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Child in Time
    $8.99 $2.99
  • Lowcountry Stranger (Sweeney Sisters Series Book 2)
    $2.99 $0.99
  • The Man in 3B
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Save Me
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Better Nate Than Ever (Better Nate Than Ever #1)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Time Bomb
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Heat and Light: A Novel
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Reunion
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Stay Up With Me
    $5.99 $1.99
  • The Loser
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.
    $9.99 $3.99
  • The Map and the Territory
    $8.99 $2.99
  • You Know Me Well
    $7.09 $2.99
  • Father's Day
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Skeletons at the Feast
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Even Now (Lost Love, #1)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Sackett's Land: The Sacketts (Sacketts, #1)
    $5.99 $2.99
  • This Bright Beauty
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Intervention (An Intervention Novel)
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Star Sand
    $3.99 $0.99
  • Secrets of Nanreath Hall
    $11.74 $1.99
  • The Sugar Queen
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Birth House
    $9.49 $1.99
  • Open City
    $12.99 $1.99
  • Out of Sorts
    $5.99 $0.99
  • The Hearts of Men: A Novel
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Revolutionary Road
    $13.99 $1.99
  • The Blessings
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Choke
    $14.99 $2.99
  • Bachelor Girl
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Wednesday Sisters
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Allie and Bea
    $4.99 $1.99
  • After the War Is Over: A Novel
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Shanghai Girls (Shanghai Girls #1)
    $12.99 $2.99
  • The Woods Are Dark
    $3.99 $0.99
  • The Magician's Assistant
    $9.99 $2.99
  • What Belongs to You
    $9.99 $3.99
  • The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The History of Bees: A Novel
    $13.99 $1.99
  • The Love Goddess' Cooking School
    $10.99 $2.99
  • All the Summer Girls
    $8.74 $1.99
  • The Girl From the Train
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Bitter Winds (Tales of the Scavenger's Daughters, #3)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Fear of Flying
    $19.99 $1.99
  • A Virtuous Woman (Oprah's Book Club)
    $15.95 $1.99
“There are some stories you can't hear enough. They are the same every time you hear them. But you are not. That's one reliable way of understanding time.” 41 likes
“Afterwards, in bed with a book, the spell of television feels remote compared to the journey into the page. To be in a book. To slip into the crease where two pages meet, to live in the place where your eyes alight upon the words to ignite a world of smoke and peril, colour and serene delight. That is a journey no one can end with the change of a channel. Enduring magic.” 22 likes
More quotes…