Way the Crow Flies

( 56 )

Overview

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 ...

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The Way the Crow Flies: A Novel

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Overview

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 ofhuman morality — one she will only begin to understand when she carries herquest for the truth, and the killer, into adulthood twenty years later.

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Editorial Reviews

People
“Astonishing in its depth and breath, it artfully weaves one family’s struggles into the fabric of the Cold War.”
Seattle Times
“Beautifully crafted … To submit to … THE WAY THE CROW FLIES is to be both transported and haunted.”
New Jersey Courier Post
“Heartbreaking, startling, profound.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Ambitious … interesting …tender, generous …[THE WAY THE CROW FLIES] is both an unblinking and a big hearted book.”
Booklist (starred review)
“MacDonald’s most impressive accomplishment is her uncanny ability … to vividly re-create the wonder, humor, and fears of childhood.”
San Diego Union-Tribune
“Rich and complex … hard to put down … MacDonald deserves another prize for THE WAY THE CROW FLIES.”
New York Times Book Review
“Both terrifying and moving.”
Booklist
"MacDonald’s most impressive accomplishment is her uncanny ability … to vividly re-create the wonder, humor, and fears of childhood."
People Magazine
"Astonishing in its depth and breath, it artfully weaves one family’s struggles into the fabric of the Cold War."
People
“Astonishing in its depth and breath, it artfully weaves one family’s struggles into the fabric of the Cold War.”
People
“Astonishing in its depth and breath, it artfully weaves one family’s struggles into the fabric of the Cold War.”
New York Times Book Review
“Both terrifying and moving.”
Seattle Times
“Beautifully crafted … To submit to … THE WAY THE CROW FLIES is to be both transported and haunted.”
San Diego Union-Tribune
“Rich and complex … hard to put down … MacDonald deserves another prize for THE WAY THE CROW FLIES.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Ambitious … interesting …tender, generous …[THE WAY THE CROW FLIES] is both an unblinking and a big hearted book.”
Booklist (starred review)
“MacDonald’s most impressive accomplishment is her uncanny ability … to vividly re-create the wonder, humor, and fears of childhood.”
New Jersey Courier Post
“Heartbreaking, startling, profound.”
The New York Times
A novel of the cold war whose main characters bear the name of McCarthy? Sure. As we are cautioned in Ann-Marie MacDonald's new novel, some things can only be ''caught by the corner of the eye. Like phosphorescence in a cave; look away and you will see.'' And so these characters hail from Canada, have nothing to do with Senator Joe, and their baby-boom family gives us a parallax view of sputnik and the Cuban missile crisis, the arms race and the space race, the brain drain from East to West, even military intelligence games, from the shadow of empire. — Art Winslow
The Washington Post
The Way the Crow Flies is a brilliant portrayal of child abuse and its consequences, but it is much more than that. It is a fiercely intelligent look at childhood, marriage, families, the 1960s, the Cold War and the fear and isolation that are part of the human condition...it is not only beautifully written; it is equally beautiful in its conception, its compassion, its wisdom, even in its anger and pain. Don't miss it.— Patrick Anderson
Publishers Weekly
A little girl's body, lying in a field, is the first image in this absorbing, psychologically rich second novel by the Canadian author of the bestselling Fall on Your Knees. Then the focus shifts to the appealing McCarthy family. It's 1962, and Jack, a career officer in the RCAF, has just been assigned to the Centralia air force base in Ontario. Jack's wife, Mimi, is a domestic goddess; their children, Mike, 12, and Madeleine, 8, are sweet, loving kids. This is an idyllically happy family, but its fate will be threatened by a secret mission Jack undertakes to watch over a defector from Soviet Russia, who will eventually be smuggled into the U. S. to work on the space program. Jack is an intensely moral, decent guy, so it takes him a while to realize that the man is a former Nazi who commanded slave labor in Peenemande, where the German rockets were built in an underground cave. Meanwhile, Madeleine is one of several fourth graders who are being molested by their teacher, and one of them winds up dead in that field. McDonald is an expert storyteller who can sustain interest even when the pace is slow, as it is initially, providing an intricate recreation of life on a military base in the 1960s. As the narrative darkens, however, it becomes a chronicle of innocence betrayed. The exquisite irony is that both Madeleine and her father, unbeknownst to each other, are keeping secrets involving the day of the murder. The subtheme is the cynical decision by the guardians of the U.S. space program to shelter Nazi war criminals in order to win the race with the Russians. The finale comes as a thunderclap, rearranging the reader's vision of everything that has gone before. It's a powerful story, delicately layered with complex secrets, told with a masterful command of narrative and a strong moral message. 8-city author tour. (Oct. 1) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An ambitious tale of a once-happy family changed forever by one year in the 1960s when the father's participation in Cold War intrigue goes tragically awry. Bestselling MacDonald (the Oprah-picked Fall on Your Knees, 1997) interweaves Cold War tensions and the space race to give her story an intriguing, if at times overreaching, plot, but that also makes for a long and padded read. The McCarthy family is posted back to Canada in 1962 after serving in Germany. The Cold War is at its height, the Cuban Missile Crisis is heating up, as is the race to the moon, and Jack McCarthy has been picked to head an officer's training school in Ontario. His French-Canadian wife Mimi and their two children, Mike and Madeleine, are happy to be home, but must soon face unexpected challenges. Eight-year-old Madeleine is close to Jack, but she doesn't tell him or Mimi about her teacher Mr. March, who makes her and other girls stay after school to perform sexually abusive "exercises." Jack soon has his secrets, too, when an old friend, British diplomat Simon Crawford, asks him to look after a defector, an East German scientist, now in transit to the US. Then Claire, a classmate of Madeleine's, is brutally raped and murdered, and both Madeleine and Jack face a moral crisis. Rick, the adopted son of a Holocaust survivor, is arrested, and Jack could save him-but that would blow his cover. And Madeleine won't lie, as requested, about where she saw Rick that day. Rick is sentenced, and a stricken Jack, who never recovers from the guilt, requests a transfer. Madeleine, a lesbian now in her 30s, takes up the narrative. Though a successful comedian, she's suddenly experiencing panic attacks that lead her to find outwho really killed Claire that long-ago afternoon. Strained at times, but, still, a grand, sweeping saga. Agent: Andrew Wylie/Wylie Agency
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060586379
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/31/2004
  • Series: P.S. Series
  • Edition description: First Perennial Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 848
  • Sales rank: 927,054
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Novelist and dramatist Ann-Marie MacDonald is the author of the internationally bestselling and award-winning novel Fall on Your Knees. She is also the playwright of Goodnight Desdemona, Good Morning Juliet, which won the Governor General's Award for Drama. She lives in Toronto.

Biography

Novelist and dramatist Ann-Marie MacDonald is the author of the internationally bestselling and award-winning novel Fall on Your Knees and The Way the Crow Flies. She is also the playwright of Goodnight Desdemona, (Good Morning Juliet), which won the Governor General's Award for Drama. She lives in Toronto.

Author biography courtesy of HarperCollins.

Good To Know

In our interview, MacDonald shared some fun and fascinating facts about herself with us: :

"The only actual skill I possess is the ability to type. And yet, the only job I was ever fired from was office temp -- I lasted three hours. I waitressed years ago when I was starting out as an actor. I once spilled three Tequila Sunrises in a row on the same customer. Unaccountably, I was never fired from a waitressing job. I like to cook. My mother is Lebanese so my tastes lean toward the Mediterranean. I have beautiful partner, a baby, two dogs and a garden. After the "sturm und drang" of my early youth and art, I find domestic bliss to be the most conducive to articulating the inner storms that make for good fiction. I'm a homebody who travels a lot."

"I think good art, including good books, make the world bigger, one heart, one mind at a time. I craft stories that are meant to work on many levels, and not every reader needs to read on all those levels in order to be deeply rewarded. I respect the reader, and I empathize with their hope that, when they crack open the pages, they will be taken away. I try to reach a broad audience and invite readers to empathize across time, space, culture, race, gender -- the works."

"I believe people are capable of more empathy and insight than the nightly news would have us think. I believe we crave to see -- really see -- through one another's eyes, even when that might be frightening."

"My first love is comedy, and like most comedians, I derive my material from the dark. My job as a writer is to craft the invitation to the reader to undertake a journey, just as Virgil beckoned Dante into The Inferno and beyond. My pledge to the reader is the assurance that we will take this journey together. Hell, purgatory, heaven...a divine comedy indeed. As E. M. Forster said in Howard's End, ‘Only connect.'"

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    1. Hometown:
      Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 29, 1958
    2. Place of Birth:
      Baden Baden, West Germany
    1. Education:
      Graduate, National Theatre School of Canada Acting Program, 1980

First Chapter

The Way the Crow Flies
A Novel

Chapter One

Many-Splendoured Things

The sun came out after the war and our world went Technicolor. Everyone had the same idea. Let's get married. Let's have kids. Let's be the ones who do it right.

It is possible, in 1962, for a drive to be the highlight of a family week. King of the road, behind the wheel on four steel-belted tires, the sky's the limit. Let's just drive, we'll find out where we're going when we get there. How many more miles, Dad?

Roads are endless vistas, city gives way to country barely mediated by suburbs. Suburbs are the best of both worlds, all you need is a car and the world is your oyster, your Edsel, your Chrysler, your Ford. Trust Texaco. Traffic is not what it will be, what's more, it's still pretty neat. There's a '53 Studebaker Coupe! -- oh look, there's the new Thunderbird ...

"'This land is your land, this land is my land ... '" A moving automobile is second only to the shower when it comes to singing, the miles fly by, the landscape changes, they pass campers and trailers -- look, another Volkswagen Beetle. It is difficult to believe that Hitler was behind something so friendly-looking and familiar as a VW bug. Dad reminds the kids that dictators often appreciate good music and are kind to animals. Hitler was a vegetarian and evil. Churchill was a drunk but good. "The world isn't black and white, kids."

In the back seat, Madeleine leans her head against the window frame, lulled by the vibrations. Her older brother is occupied with baseball cards, her parents are up front enjoying "the beautiful scenery." This is an ideal time to begin her movie. She hums "Moon River," and imagines that the audience can just see her profile, hair blowing back in the wind. They see what she sees out the window, the countryside, off to see the world, and they wonder where it is she is off to and what life will bring, there's such a lot of world to see. They wonder, who is this dark-haired girl with the pixie cut and the wistful expression? An orphan? An only child with a dead mother and a kind father? Being sent from her boarding school to spend the summer at the country house of mysterious relatives who live next to a mansion where lives a girl a little older than herself who rides horses and wears red dungarees? We're after the same rainbow's end, just around the bend ... And they are forced to run away together and solve a mystery, my Huckleberry friend ...

Through the car window, she pictures tall black letters superimposed on a background of speeding green -- "Starring Madeleine McCarthy" -- punctuated frame by frame by telephone poles, Moon River, and me ...

It is difficult to get past the opening credits so better simply to start a new movie. Pick a song to go with it. Madeleine sings, sotto voce, "'Que será, será, whatever will be will -- '" darn, we're stopping.

"I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream," says her father, pulling over.

Utterly wrapped up in her movie, Madeleine has failed to notice the big strawberry ice cream cone tilting toward the highway, festive in its party hat. "Yay!" she exclaims. Her brother rolls his eyes at her.

Everything in Canada is so much bigger than it was in Germany, the cones, the cars, the "supermarkets." She wonders what their new house will be like. And her new room -- will it be pretty? Will it be big? Que será, será ... "Name your poison," says Dad at the ice cream counter, a white wooden shack. They sell fresh corn on the cob here too. The fields are full of it -- the kind Europeans call Indian corn.

"Neapolitan, please," says Madeleine.

Her father runs a hand through his sandy crewcut and smiles through his sunglasses at the fat lady in the shade behind the counter. He and her brother have matching haircuts, although Mike's hair is even lighter. Wheat-coloured. It looks as though you could remove waxy buildup from your kitchen floor by turning him upside down and plugging him in, but his bristles are actually quite soft. He rarely allows Madeleine to touch them, however. He has strolled away now toward the highway, thumbs hooked in his belt loops -- pretending he is out in the world on his own, Madeleine knows. He must be boiling in those dungarees but he won't admit it, and he won't wear shorts. Dad never wears shorts.

"Mike, where do you think you're going?" she calls.

He ignores her. He is going on twelve.

She runs a hand through her hair the way Dad does, loving its silky shortness. A pixie cut is a far cry from a crewcut, but it's also mercifully far from the waist-length braids she endured until this spring. She accidentally cut one off during crafts in school. Maman still loves her but will probably never forgive her.

Her mother waits in the Rambler. She wears the sunglasses she got on the French Riviera last summer. She looks like a movie star. Madeleine watches her adjust the rearview mirror and freshen her lipstick. Black hair, red lips, white sunglasses. Like Jackie Kennedy -- "She copied me." Mike calls her Maman, but for Madeleine she is "Maman" at home and "Mum" in public. "Mum" is more carefree than Maman -- like penny loafers instead of Mary Janes. "Mum" goes better with "Dad." Things go better with Coke.

Her father waits with his hands in the pockets of his chinos, removes his sunglasses and squints up at the blue sky, whistling a tune through his teeth. "Smell the corn," he says. "That's the smell of pure sunshine." Madeleine puts her hands in the pockets of her short-shorts, squints up and inhales ...

The Way the Crow Flies
A Novel
. Copyright © by Ann-Marie MacDonald. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Interviews & Essays

Q: It has been seven years since Fall on Your Knees was published. Now that your newest novel, The Way the Crow Flies, is out in bookstores everywhere, will your writing continue to be a priority?
A: It's not a question of "Would I be able to find time to write?" After I've finished every big project, the way I comfort and soothe myself is by telling myself I never have to write anything again. But this is very different. It's "Will I be able to convince myself to stop writing now?" Because you know what happens when you start: you have to finish. At least I do. And for me, it's like smoking. If you don't start, you won't have to finish. So don't start writing a book. Kids, don't start!

Q. What was the inspiration for The Way the Crow Flies?
A. I can't say that in one word or one line. I can say that in 720 pages . . . which I did! But I always begin with images, and in this case I really began with the image of that cornfield and the image of a kid on those PMQs [the housing quarters] on that air force station. It's like a Kodak photo. There was a terrible melancholy and tremendous promise about that picture and I needed to make up a story to explain it. And I was also very driven to make connections between the grown-up and patriarchal world of the early 1960s and the domestic world — of children especially. How those things are supposed to be kept separate and how the adult world supposedly functions for the sake of the children's. Anytime anyone ever says they're doing something for the sake of the children, I smell a rat. And I also don't believe in keeping our worlds apart. I believe our worlds are connected —even across seemingly unbridgeable gulfs. What do the Nazi slave labour camps in WWII have to do with an idyllic post-war neighbourhood? Well, possibly everything. Our everyday lives thread back into the past — they've been paid for somehow.

Q. International controversies like the Cuban Missile Crisis, the harbouring of war criminals and NASA's quest for the moon play an integral part in the story. Were you consciously giving Canada, a country that has a quiet international reputation, an active role in these world events?
A.
I'm basically describing what did happen. Canada did have a role. And it was a pretty classic role — the role that we continue to play. That nexus of events that I describe in the novel is not dissimilar to what we've just gone through with Iraq. And it's not dissimilar to what we've just gone through with the Challenger exploding, killing the astronauts, and the in-fighting at NASA and the prioritization of a fantasy missile shield in the sky. The continuing militarization of space.

And where is Canada in all of this? Canada is always caught between Britain and the U.S. Most recently we've seen Britain and the U.S. holding hands again, and continuing to hold hands, and though Canada this time opted out of that triad in a way, it's a dynamic that has been going on ever since Canada became a nation. We're the youngest child but we're always caught in between. And that comes with a price — but it also comes with some privileges. We have a privileged perspective. Once I dug into Canada's experience, our political stance in the Cuban missile crisis, it became very interesting because that time in our history really does paint a very articulate picture of where Canada often finds itself: caught between the old Empire, i.e., Britain, and the new, i.e., the U.S. And Canada has this nice, innocent look but in fact our hands are not really clean. How can they be? You can never have completely pure hands. I don't believe in purity anyway, but let's at least be honest about what we've been into.

Q. There are some complex little girls in this novel. Why did you decide to write the story from Madeleine's perspective?
A.
That evolved, like everything else does in a book. The points of view that are going to be primary rise up because they are the healthiest stalks in the garden. Certainly Madeleine and Jack are the pair in this story. That's the dual perspective and each of them represent the world I've just sketched: the domestic sphere that was held separate from the political sphere; the grown-up sphere versus the child's sphere; the very masculine sphere from the feminine sphere, and how we keep these worlds apart at our peril. They actually need to communicate and they need to mix it up. Jack and Madeleine just seemed like a really good duo.

There's of course a lot of archetypal power in the father-daughter story too. We tend never to tire of either writing it or reading it. And there's a price to pay for certain kinds of fathers and daughters. There's a great deal of love in the family in this story obviously, and Jack can be seen as a very progressive father, especially when he treats his daughter as though she were a son for example, not pigeon-holing her by making her be a traditional girl (and I'm talking again period-wise — the early 60s) — he's very concerned that his daughter have all the opportunities that his son will have. He's progressive, he's beloved, and in a couple of critical ways, he's terribly wrong.

Everyone grows up and then separates from their parents. In this case a prized daughter has to separate from a cherished father for dire reasons. It's not simple. It's very easy to reject the villains when they have come from the outside. It's a much more complex affair when there's love involved and genuine value.

I read a book about Albert Speer [Hitler's minister of armaments], called Albert Speer: His Battle with Truth, and one of the most interesting aspects of that book was how his daughter struggled to continue to understand her love and respect for her father while also despising his crimes.

Q. What do you like most about touring?
A.
Usually I get asked about what I like least about touring! What do I like most about touring? I like meeting my readers. I like reading to readers.

Q. Your books are published all over the world. Is there a distinctly Canadian response to your work?
A.
I don't know. I'm very interested in the answer to that question. And I don't think I have enough anecdotal evidence. I think clearly Canadians have that extra edge of identification. They really get some things in my writing. I think there's also something about us as Canadian readers where we feel vindicated to see our point of view front and centre because it's so often marginalized, or it's on page 7 in the bottom left hand corner, if it's there at all.

I think people around the world can identify with our particular Canadian perspective because we live in the shadow of a superpower. On the one hand, the U.S. is our ally. But the whole Iraq thing has again led a lot of people to question their relationship with power, and we have to do that every day all the time — both because we get so much out of our relationship and we're such close friends and neighbours with the U.S. and because it can also be so chilling, depending on who's in charge.

Q. Are there any books that you wish you had written?
A.
No, because I'm just so terribly relieved that I didn't have to write them, and that I didn't have to go through the pain and agony of creating them. I just had to enjoy them!

Q. What are your favourite books?
A.
Books like Jane Eyre and Huckleberry Finn are formative books for me. And The Child in Time by Ian McEwan had a big impact on me many years ago.

Q. Are there authors writing today whose books you can't wait to read?
A.
There are tons! I always hate having to name names because I always leave out everybody. I want to catch up on my Canadian reading. There's a lot of great fiction coming out lately and while I'm writing fiction I'm very hard-pressed to enjoy reading it. I read it too analytically and I'd rather read as a reader.

I want to read Barbara Gowdy's The White Bone and Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake and Atonement by Ian McEwan. I also want to read Gail Anderson-Dargatz — she's had two books since her first novel and I'd like to catch up on what she's been doing. And I've always wanted to read The Wives of Bath by Susan Swan.

Q. Have you ever considered writing books for children?
A.
It has crossed my mind. I wonder what would happen, and where it would go.

Q. What's next for you?
A.
Family. The thing is there's either too much touring to do or there's a screenplay in the works for Fall on Your Knees or there are other projects of mine that I might return to, projects for theatre. There's plenty for me to do, but starting a big new work is something that I would like to not do for the next couple of years. I think life will be full enough without starting to follow that string into the labyrinth. I don't want to miss out on my child.
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Reading Group Guide

Introduction

Life on the move is already the norm for eight-year-old Madeleine McCarthy. Her family's posting to Centralia is just one of many new starts, new homes, and new friends. As the beloved daughter of Jack, an officer of the Royal Canadian Air Force, and beautiful maman Mimi, she is secure in the comforting cocoon of her family love and the optimism that embraced the early sixties. Yet even her adoring family cannot protect Madeleine from the perilous world around them, including the menace of the Cold War, and the unimaginable threat of Mr. March, whose Pied Piper power over his students is a secret burden they must carry.

By the time Madeleine turns nine, her innocent childhood is shattered and a fellow schoolmate is murdered. The father she idolizes is caught up in a web of secrets and must decide where his loyalties lie. And Madeleine must grow up knowing too much and knowing too little. Finally, twenty years later, Madeleine comes face to face with the truth and the tragedy that changed hers, and many other lives, forever.

Questions for Discussion

  1. The book begins "It is possible, in 1962, for a drive to be the highlight of a family week." How does this opening establish the outlook of early sixties, and how does the author illustrate changing times throughout the course of the story?

  2. Most of the characters in the story are not what they seem. Discuss the deceptions, innocent or nefarious, of the following characters: Jack, Mimi, Henry Froelick, Oskar Fried, Mr. March, Madeleine, and Ricky and Colleen Froelick.

  3. While driving to Centralia, the McCarthys pass a Welcome to Kitchener sign. "Did you know Kitchener used to be called Berlin?" Jack says. "It was settled by the German immigrants, but they changed the name during the First World War" (page 13). How does this scene establish a recurring theme throughout the story?

  4. Why does Jack agree to help Simon? Loyalty to his friend? Loyalty to his country? Or does Jack want to recapture the glory that was taken from him the day his flying career was cut short because of the plane accident?

  5. Jack calls Simon to ask him to speak to someone in authority to help Ricky. Simon reveals that no one else knows about the operation ... and no one else will. Simon says to Jack "Don't shake hands with the Devil before you meet him" (page 410). Why is this ironic, coming from Simon? Where else is the expression used?

  6. White lies and small secrets have a way of snowballing in the story. Jack not telling Mimi about Oskar Fried, one of the first secrets he's ever kept from his wife, leads to many unfortunate events. Discuss the path of destruction behind this, and other secrets in the story.

  7. Why does Mimi have such an adverse reaction to Karen Froelich from the moment she first meets her?

  8. Mimi often tells the children to "think nice thoughts" whenever any serious discussion comes up. What does this do to Madeleine's coping skills?

  9. Despite surviving such hard times as the Depression and World War II, Mimi and Jack and the rest of their generation try to raise their families on pure optimism. Why, and in what ways, does Madeleine resent this as an adult?

  10. What was Simon's motivation for sending Mimi the letter after Jack died?

  11. What does Madeleine smell when she sniffs her hands? What does the odor represent?

  12. Many chapters open with brief passages and excerpts separate from the main story. Why do you think the author uses this narrative technique?

  13. Discuss the real and imagined guilt that burden Madeleine and Jack.

About the Author

Novelist and dramatist Ann-Marie MacDonald is the author of the international bestselling and award winning novel, Fall on Your Knees. She also won the Governor General's Award for Drama and the Canadian Author's Award for Fiction. She lives in Toronto.

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Customer Reviews

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  • Posted April 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I really liked this book

    This book was really fun to read. I loved the single line references to songs and TV from the 60's. The book had the ability to take me back to my childhood and still be completely intrigued by the story. Then, when the story jumped forward in time, I was still unable to solve the mystery and was completely surprised at the endng. It was an enjoyable read and a good story.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2007

    Couldn't put it down

    I recently finished reading The Way the Crow Flies, and I can honestly say that this is the first book in a LONG TIME that I couldn't put down. MacDonald writes so that you feel like you can see the RCAF Base and you go to school with the kids and you like the families. The suspense of the story kept me riveted. Two thumbs WAY up!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2005

    Disturbing

    I think just like with graphic music, books should be held to the same standard. I read the back cover of the book and nowhere in the explaination did it say it was going to be about child abuse. I started the book and warmed up to the time period and the characters. When the whole child abuse piece surfaced, I started to skim the book because of the highly disturbing narrative. I was so deeply bothered by some of the chapters that I had to skip them. I think that if this is the main premisis of the book, put it on the back cover. Let the reader know that it contains disturing and graphic information.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 24, 2013

    My grown daughter insisted I read this book. She said it sounded

    My grown daughter insisted I read this book. She said it sounded like some of my childhood, with all the military moves. And she was correct.
    It was a little hard at first to get into it but boy once I did I could put it down! Actually skipped a
    day of work and spent the whole day reading until I finished. Now of course I miss it.
    And the best part is all the characters have an ending so you as the reader are not left hanging wondering what became of them. Make sure you read this one especially if you were a child in the 60's it will really bring you back and open up all kinds of memories from that time period.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2012

    And end to innocence story, masterfully told with history weaved

    And end to innocence story, masterfully told with history weaved throughout the tell. the characters grab you, the plot and descriptions are sometimes languid, sometimes leaving you on the edge of your seat, but never losing your attention. LOVED this and had to continuously tear myself away when other responsibilities called.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 26, 2012

    Amazingly detailed and accurate

    If it weren't for the opening page, this book would seem a dreamy, rich view of the haze of summer, childhood, and family life as recounted by a military family moving back to Canada. And this masterful writing instantly creates a resonance with anyone who has ever rode out the last days of summer, wondered about making new friends, and settled in after (another) move. But, like the best books with a murder at the core, this warm feeling is constantly interrupted, with the reader unable to stop wondering how this sense of place and time, and the idyllic will lead us to a corpse. [WARNING: If you read the back of the book, it will actually spoil a major plot point. I still don't know why backs of books are written so terribly!!)
    Also, like the best of them, you know, with an increasing sense of dread, that the characters you've instantly gotten to know, and care about, their lives will change when all is revealed. When you are given your first clue about the identity of the victim, you exhale, not even realizing how much tension had built up and how so many little innocuous details had grown into suspicion and paranoia.
    There is enough amazing-ness captured here to make the book murderless---Froelich and Jack discussing the moon while Mimi sings an Acadian folk song in the background., Madeleine getting a ride on a motor scooter, or unpacking her toys. But, with said murder, the tension builds, along with the head-shaking and denial when you find out increasingly horrible things in regards to people you have grown to care about to a great extent.
    The epilogue--when everyone has grown up, (epilogue longer than some novels, so let's say, the fourth act, could have easily have been a typically portrayed lesbian explaining why the Man has got her down. Instead, every incident and word honestly stems and derives from experiences, memories and personality established in the beginning of the book. Any fiction, where you feel the author is on a soapbox, can stem from character's words or action ineptly formed around the message that is being forced upon you.
    So, from MacDonald’s' skilled pen comes not words, but life, as you, me, and the next person experienced it. And any direction explored, anything "alternative" or rebellious, stems from real people trying to figure out them elves and the world around them, and how tragedy inexplicably tangles the mind, until we have the years, wisdom and strength to unravel it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 9, 2010

    Wow!!

    This is one of those rare books I didn't want to end. The author is not simply talented she's gifted. I'm amazed at her ability to put me right on the scene and especially into the mind of an intelligent, funny, witty Madeleine. I think she handled the subject of child abuse and murder with delicacy while making it clear what was happening. This is real life, not the gratuitous violence pumped out in so many books today. Thank you Ann-Marie MacDonald!! I'm very much looking forward to reading "Fall On Your Knees."

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2010

    Thought-provoking mystery set in the early '60s ...

    This book was incredibly well-written with a plot that moves you along but still leaves the ending in question. With a wonderfully-painted picture of life in the early 60s, the author is adept in her descriptions of life as a military brat (in this case, Canadian Air Force, in my case, USAF) and the challenges of moving, making new friends, and of the politics of military life. It takes this from multiple view points: Jack, Madeleine's career military dad, Mimi, Jack's career military wife and Madeleine's mother, and of course, Madeleine herself. Madeleine struggles with friendships, change, and trying to interpret painful adult messages at a young age. This book had one of the most satisfying (though not simple) endings I've read in a long time -- while everything was not wrapped up in a bow, I was left with answers and closure. I can't wait to read Ann-Marie MacDonald's next book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 27, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    I love to find this kind of book

    This is the kind of book you read knowing that it will be a while before you read another one like it. Intelligent, emotionally gripping, so descriptive of both a time and a place that you'll believe you can get in touch with the fictional characters. Funny, heartbreaking, insightful and wonderfully written. I have consistently read a book a week for years and this one is on my top ten list of favorites.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2006

    Are you kidding me?!

    How do I hate thee? Let me count the ways!!! After reading Fall on Your Knees, this was extremely disappointing!!! I can't believe it is even the same author!! Beef #1 There were too many details! I thought this story would NEVER get started!!By page 100, I was ready to throw the towel in, but i pressed on b/c I paid for the book. Beef #2 Okay, I get it! The book takes place in the 50s. It was obvious the author was trying to re-create this time period. She could have cut out a lot of the details. I just found them annoying and boring. Beef #3 The last 100 pages. Are you serious? I hate the way the characters 'developed' and I absolutely hate the ending. It was so unconvincing. What a huge disappointment!!! I wish I could get a refund, and I honestly could NOT recommend this book. It has potential but the author tried too hard, and it was too hard to weed through the pages and pages of boring, unnecessary details.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2006

    An incredible read

    After reading 'Fall On Your Knees', I was very eager to read this book and was not disappointed. The intrinsic character development left me so emotionally attached to this family, and although it seemed that it took awhile for the plot to get rolling, I felt that it helped shape the story and create the tone of intimacy with the charcters sharpened the impact of the story. I have noticed a few reviews that stated they thought certain parts of the book were too graphic and too haunting, when the abuse occured. I consider myself to be very sensitive and didn't find them to be gratuitious or in vulgar taste. Abuse of a child is always a haunting subject to say, the least but this was a humble story that was compelling and beautifully written. I would highly recommend this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2005

    A beautiful Book

    The Way the Crow Flies is a hauntingly beautiful book. It has been years since I've read a novel that has so deeply touched me. Flawless and achingly real, The Way the Crow Flies stands out as a piece of contemporary art.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2005

    excellant but at times hard to keep going

    I found this book incredible for how well it was written and the turns and twists in the plot. The book talks about child abuse but is so well written you feel as if it has happened to you and you understand every emotion that the child is experiencing. At times I even had to put it down for awhile because it got to me. But that is how you know an excellant book because it truly allows you to feel what the character is feeling. The book also takes the point of view of a child and captures this very well. Do not read ahead, but know that the end of this book turns everything around on you. Despite how disturbing this book can be it will never leave you.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2005

    EXCELLENT, HIGHLY RECCOMENDED

    I enjoyed Macdonald's first novel very much and now with this one I am thoroughly convinced of her talent. This book at one moment had me crying, the next angry and swearing aloud at it's characters which is a first for me. This is the first review I have ever written although I read many in my searches for new material. I am an avid 'reader', a housewife with alot of leisure time and also legally blind so I listen to books on tape(almost 100 per year.) I was disappointed by some of the reviews I read about this novel and am glad I didn't take them to heart. I highly reccomend this book, it is long but worth every minute as far as I am concerned. If you are an overly sensitive person it may not be for you however, like I mentioned I was quite touched by i'ts contents. ENJOY!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2004

    Stunning

    One of the best books I have read. I could not resist this intricate plot with such well developed characters. One of the few books you will not be able to put down. Haunting in its detail, beautiful in its composition, this author has an amazing gift and I patiently wait for her next masterpiece. This novel is an investment and can't be missed!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2005

    Evocative tale of the 60s and the impact of the cold war on the Americas

    I picked up the book and couldn't put it down until finished. A great Christmas vacation read. I was totally absorbed and hated the book to end.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2014

    Dark and engrossing

    I read MacDonald's novel "Fall On Your Knees" previously and it was very good as well, although I enjoyed "The Way the Crow Flies" more. The both contain the dark undercurrent of sexual abuse, but also redemption and a poignant beauty. There is a little bit of everything in this novel: the mystery at the root of the story, the love of the MacCarthys, even humor.. I recommend this book especially if you enjoy an epic tale that touches every emotion, and if you liked MacDonald's previous works.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2011

    What a drag!

    Everytime i try to read this book i fall asleep! Very boring. If i could return it i would.

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  • Posted August 30, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Sad and yet very beautiful...

    I enjoyed this book and would recommend. Ann-Marie has a way of developing characters and painting a scene - which allows you to feel present. I love Madeleine. I loved Jack. Each of these characters were so real...the book does get dark at times. Beautifully written. Strong characters. Heartbreaking story.

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  • Posted April 20, 2011

    couldn't put it down!

    well written, intriguing story! i couldn't put it down!

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