The Way the Crow Flies: A Novel

The Way the Crow Flies: A Novel

by Ann-Marie MacDonald

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The Way the Crow Flies: A Novel by Ann-Marie MacDonald

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060586379
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 08/31/2004
Series: P.S. Series
Edition description: First Perennial Edition
Pages: 848
Sales rank: 646,451
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.50(d)

About 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.


Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Date of Birth:

October 29, 1958

Place of Birth:

Baden Baden, West Germany


Graduate, National Theatre School of Canada Acting Program, 1980

Read an Excerpt

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.

Reading Group Guide

"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."

The Way the Crow Flies, the second novel by bestselling, award-winning author Ann-Marie MacDonald, is set on the Royal Canadian Air Force station of Centralia during the early sixties. It is a time of optimism -- infused with the excitement of the space race but overshadowed by the menace of the Cold War -- filtered through the rich imagination and quick humour of eight-year-old Madeleine McCarthy and the idealism of her father, Jack, a career officer.

As the novel opens, Madeleine's family is driving to their new home; Centralia is her father's latest posting. They have come back from the Old World of Germany to the New World of Canada, where the towns hold memories of the Europeans who settled there. For the McCarthys, it is "the best of both worlds." And they are a happy family. Jack and Mimi are still in love, Madeleine and her older brother, Mike, get along as well as can be expected. They all dance together and barbecue in the snow. They are compassionate and caring. Yet they have secrets.

Centralia is the station where, years ago, Jack crashed his plane and therefore never went operational; instead of being killed in action in 1943, he became a manager. Although he is successful, enjoys "flying a desk" and is thickening around the waist from Mimi's good Acadian cooking, deep down Jack feels restless. His imagination is caught by the space race and the fight against Communism; he believes landing a man on the moon will change the world, and anything is possible. When his oldwartime flying instructor appears out of the blue and asks for help with the secret defection of a Soviet scientist, Jack is excited to answer the call of duty: now he has a real job.

Madeleine's secret is "the exercise group". She is kept behind after class by Mr. March, along with other little girls, and made to do "backbends" to improve her concentration. As the abusive situation worsens, she is convinced that she cannot tell her parents and risk disappointing them. No one suspects, even when Madeleine's behaviour changes: in the early sixties people still believe that school is "one of the safest places." Colleen and Ricky, the adopted Metis children of her neighbours, know differently; at the school they were sent to after their parents died, they had been labelled "retarded" because they spoke Michif.

Then a little girl is murdered. Ricky is arrested, although most people on the station are convinced of his innocence. At the same time, Ricky's father, Henry Froelich, a German Jew who was in a concentration camp, identifies the Soviet scientist hiding in the nearby town as a possible Nazi war criminal. Jack alone could provide Ricky's alibi, but the Cold War stakes are politically high and doing "the right thing" is not so simple. "Show me the right thing and I will do it," says Jack. As this very local murder intersects with global forces, The Way the Crow Flies reminds us that in time of war the lines between right and wrong are often blurred.

Ann-Marie MacDonald said in a discussion with Oprah Winfrey about her first book, "a happy ending is when someone can walk out of the rubble and tell the story." Madeleine achieves her childhood dream of becoming a comedian, yet twenty years later she realises she cannot rest until she has renewed the quest for the truth, and confirmed how and why the child was murdered.. Publishers Weekly, in a starred review, called The Way the Crow Flies "absorbing, psychologically rich…a chronicle of innocence betrayed". With compassion and intelligence, and an unerring eye for the absurd as well as the confusions of childhood, , MacDonald evokes the confusion of being human and the necessity of coming to terms with our imperfections.

1. We learn in the beginning that the girl who is murdered wears a charm bracelet. Why does the author introduce another charm bracelet, given by Mimi to Madeleine?

2. What does it tell us about Jack that he still thinks of his old teacher Simon as his best friend although he's hardly seen him in twenty years?

3. Jack realizes long after other people that Froelich is Jewish. He thinks Madeleine is "sunny and light," and he thinks school is a safe place. Like Madeleine, we start to feel sorry for him. Jack and Madeleine are shown simultaneously as innocents who are taken advantage of. As the parallel plot threads unfold, how do our feelings change about Jack?

4. Centralia is called "God's country." Madeleine muses on the idea that God loves the souls of children best of all: "They are his favourite. Yum. Like the giant in ‘Jack and the Beanstalk'." She thinks guardian angels wait for something bad to happen to you and saints watch children being murdered. How do her observations of the cruelty of life affect our sense of justice in the world she inhabits?

5. How does keeping the secrets affect Madeleine and her father's characters? Do you think there is a moral message to be found?

6. "There was actually quite a bit of intermarriage between the Acadians and the native Indians, wasn't there?" asks Karen Froelich. It gradually becomes clear that Mimi, the Acadian who sings "un Acadien errant," and Colleen, whose father played Cajun music and who says, "Chu en woyaugeur, ji rest partou," have a shared ancestral past. What is the significance of this? How does the story of Ricky and Colleen reinforce the theme of government-sanctioned atrocity during war?

7. The way people dress seems to tell much about people's characters in the novel. Discuss with reference to the Froelichs, Mimi, Marjorie Nolan and Madeleine.

8. Mimi says men understand less than women, and women have to work to make them feel good. How does Mimi's insistence on femininity and looking after men affect the unfolding of the plot, if at all?

9. One reviewer has said "The finale comes as a thunderclap, rearranging the reader's vision of everything that has gone before." Do you agree with this statement?

10. What does the novel say about the nature of family love?

11. How did you feel about the "fairy tale" of the slaves in the mountain?

12. How do you interpret recurring animal symbols such as the deer (Bambi, the deer that appears when Madeleine and Colleen visit the place where Claire was killed, the deer that inadvertently killed Colleen and Ricky's parents) and the dogs (Rex, the dog killed in the space Sputnik satellite, the dog in the drain the night Claire goes missing)?


1) Can you tell us how you became a writer?
I became a writer through the theatre. As an actor I started collaborating -- writing shows collectively until I started writing plays on my own. Then I wrote a book. I started writing it as a play until I got stuck and realized a play was the wrong form.

2) Are there any tips you would give a book club to better navigate their discussion of your book?
Have a drink. Enjoy. Yell.

3) Which authors have been most influential to your own writing?
Charlotte Bronte, The Beatles, Northrop Frye. I love authors and books but I get influenced by life.

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Way the Crow Flies 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 66 reviews.
Camboron More than 1 year ago
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.
Michelle_TMT More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
lizj22 More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
wordsilove More than 1 year ago
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."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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!
JAMiller More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
dancingwaves on LibraryThing 5 days ago
One of those novels that is truly haunting; once I picked it up, I couldn't put it back down. The characters came to life for me, they began visiting my thoughts as I wondered where MacDonald would take me, the reader, in my next round of reading. Highly recommended.
lauralkeet on LibraryThing 5 days ago
Madeleine McCarthy is 8 years old in 1962, when her family moves from a Royal Canadian Air Force station in Germany to their next posting, in Centralia, Ontario, Canada. At the very beginning of this book, the author foreshadows the murder of a young child. But first, the reader is immersed in all the details of life on an air force base. From a child¿s point of view, there are new friends to be made, and a new school to settle into. But there¿s also a constant feeling of transience, since friends come and go at the military¿s discretion: If you move around all your life, you can¿t find where you come from on a map. All those places where you lived are just that: places. You don¿t come from any of them; you come from a series of events. As Madeleine and her brother Mike adjust to the new community, so do her parents, Mimi and Jack. Mimi and Jack are deeply in love, and their partnership has supported them through many military transitions. A former colleague of Jack¿s, now retired from the military, calls upon him to perform some intelligence work that Jack believes will further the space race. He struggles with the secrecy required of these duties, while at the same time being fascinated by the opportunity to battle the threat of communism. Life in Centralia is typical of the 1960s, much like ¿Leave it to Beaver.¿ Then the murder occurs, changing Centralia forever. MacDonald has so masterfully developed all the characters, and involved the reader in all facets of their lives, such that it is hard to imagine who would have killed a child. Madeleine is profoundly affected by the tragedy, but as with many early childhood experiences, she represses the events surrounding the murder and its aftermath. The story concludes with Madeleine, now in her 30s, coming to terms with the events in her past, and making amends where possible. The Way the Crow Flies is a compelling story with a rich cast of characters. I liked this even more than MacDonald¿s first book, Fall on Your Knees, which I read earlier this year.
cinesnail88 on LibraryThing 5 days ago
Okay, for starters, this book took me two months to read and for a while I thought I would never finish it. It was well-crafted, well-written, even enthralling at times, and yet, I can't help believe the story should have been shorter. I love a good, long read, but this book didn't feel like that. At the beginning it felt like a chore even. Looking back on it, it was a great book, just difficult at times.
JGoto on LibraryThing 5 days ago
The Way the Crow Flies is a heartrending novel that takes place on a Canadian military base during the Cold War Era. Much of the story is in the voice of eight year old Madeleine, whose perceptions of the world are heartbreakingly poignant. The author weaves her tale of family, loss of innocence, misplaced guilt and moral ambiguity into the detail-rich setting of the 1960¿s. Ann-Marie MacDonald is a master story teller and this book is not to be missed.
bibliophile26 on LibraryThing 5 days ago
A monster of a book...800+ pages. It is set in the 60's during the Cold War on a military base in Canada. A heartwrenching tale of child abuse and a teenage boy falsely accused of murder. Engrossing, but the plot dragged at times...could've been at least 200 pp. shorter.
tangledthread on LibraryThing 5 days ago
April 2007 book group selection. This is a good story that could have been told in a good deal less that 700+ pages. Character development and story line progression was good. However, close to half of the metaphors and environmental descriptions could have been edited to improve the flow of the book. Also, there are a few inaccuracies in the assignment of minor time references: there's a 1962 reference to the lady with the monkeys which is impossible. Jane Goodall's first book, My Life With the Chimpanzee's is autobiographical of the first 28 years of her life, she was just 28 in 1962. And it couldn't have been referring to Dianne Fossey (Gorilla's in the Mist) who didn't go to Tanzania until 1963.In summary...a good book that could have been much improved with tighter editing.
phillyexpat on LibraryThing 11 days ago
The murder of a young girl sends shockwaves through a small Canadian town. From her young classmate, who struggles with a horrible secret, to her air force officer father, who must balance an issue of international security with the safety of his family, the book is a powerful look at how the Cold War changed domestic life forever. And trust me, you won't see the ending coming.
heddy_e on LibraryThing 11 days ago
Many aspiring writers read ravenously, hoping knowledge of the craft will seep into the brain along with the words from the page. Every once in a while I read something and think `Wow, I wish I could write like that¿. Not often though. There are few books in my mental collection of work I admire in that way. There are obvious choices, great work that many have recognized as great -- The Lord of the Rings for example is on many writers `Wish I could¿ list. Today there is something new on my mental shelf, something I will remember for a long, long time. The characters were so alive I could see them move. The setting so real I felt I was there and words, so many beautiful words. And of course I am proud that this author is a Female Canadian.Here¿s an excerpt from The Way the Crow Flies by Ann-Marie Macdonald. (Two little girls visit the scene of their friends murder.) The ground becomes marshy. Up ahead, standing alone, announcing the woods, is a stately elm. There stop. Don¿t step in. Stay at the edge. Like stumbling upon a pond, you don¿t want to get a soaker. If this were a pond, you might see your own reflection and wonder if there was a tiny world down there looking back at you. But it¿s not a pond, it¿s a circular patch of tamped-down grass and weeds, as though someone had a picnic there. A spot the size of a puddle. Big enough for one to curl up in. That is where she lay. But already the tender grass is springing back. Soon there will be nothing to see. Around the edges, bluebells and dandelions have been plucked, the milk dried in severed stems, their blossoms tossed among broken bulrushes.I suppose it was easy for me fall in love with it because it is set in Canada, on an air force base, a place I knew well having lived in PMQs myself. And I suppose I could identify with the main character and what happened to her because she was female and what female walks around at night without the word rape hiding in the back of her mind. (Thank God I¿ve never been, nor has anyone close to me been a victim of rape.)The only negative about this story would have to be it¿s length, this baby is about 800 pages. There are passages of long flowing description, they are beautifully written and worth reading for that reason alone, but the story wouldn¿t have suffered at their removal.I suppose I¿m getting carried away ¿ bottom line is I loved it! Check it out.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jane_V_Blanchard More than 1 year ago
At first I did not like the way the crow flies by Ann-Marie MacDonald. I found the telling of the story from the perspective of each member of the  McCarthy family confusing. As I became familiar with the family members (the parents Jack and Mimi and the siblings Mike and Madeleine) and the story developed, I could not put down the book. The story takes place in the early 1960s on the Centralia air force base in Ontario, Canada, at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, before feminism, and when children were seen as innocents and shielded from the sins of the adult world. As a child of that era, I enjoyed the many references to the-then pop culture. This is not a book about nostalgia but about the grey areas, ethical choices,  and lies and deception that affect the McCarthy family. Eight-year-old Madeleine has a secret. She along with other girls in her class are molested by a teacher. Jack, an officer in the RCAF is working on a secret mission and lies to keep Mimi and others from finding out about it, and then struggles with the moral issues that arise. Even the neighbors have secrets. When one of Madeleine’s class mates is found murdered in a field, the story becomes complex. Both the father and daughter must chose whether to reveal their secrets or not, and then they must live with their decision. To me, solving the murder was less intriguing than following the character development and excellently weaved stories from the child versus adult point of view. I wanted Madeleine’s parents to notice what was happening to their daughter. I wanted Jack to make different decisions than he did. I wanted a different outcome from the trial. But, the author reminds us, life is not always about what we want. Ms. MacDonald’s writing style is a pleasure to read from a technical point of view. She is a wonderful wordsmith, and uses metaphors and similes, stream of consciousness, and striking comparisons to narrate this complex story. I enjoyed studying her style as much as reading the book.