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The Way the Crow Flies
Cover of The Way the Crow Flies
The Way the Crow Flies
"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...
"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...
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Description-

  • "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.

    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.

 

Awards-

Excerpts-

  • From the book 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.

    The murder happened near a place kids called Rock Bass. In a meadow at the edge of the woods. A tamped-down spot, as though someone had had a picnic there. The crows saw what happened. Other birds were in the high branches and they saw too, but crows are different. They are interested. Other birds saw a series of actions. The crows saw the murder. A light blue cotton dress. Perfectly still now.

    From high in the tree, the crows eyed the charm bracelet glinting on her wrist. Best to wait. The silver beckoned, but best to wait.

    Many-Splendoured Things

    The sun came out after the war and our world went Technicolour. 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. . . .

    "Let's sing 'This Land Is Your 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 darkhaired 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...

About the Author-

  • Ann-Marie MacDonald was born in West Germany and spent the first few years of her life on a Canadian air force station near Baden Baden. Her father was an officer in the RCAF and the family was posted numerous times.

    She attended one year at Carleton University, Ottawa, studying languages and Classics. She went to the National Theatre School of Canada in Montreal where she trained as an actor, graduating from the program in 1980. She moved to Toronto where she began an acting career. She soon became involved in creating original Canadian work in a number of contexts: collective creation, collaboration and solo writing. The work always combined theatrical innovation, politics and entertainment. She worked as an independent artist, with Nightwood Theatre and Theatre Passe Muraille as her principal theatre "homes." Her seminal works include the collective creation This is For You, Anna, and the multi-episodic Nancy Drew: Clue in the Fast Lane. Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) was MacDonald's first solo-authored work.

    She continued to work as an actor in theatres across the country and in many independent films, including I've Heard the Mermaids Singing, Where the Spirit Lives and Better Than Chocolate. As well, she guest-starred on numerous television series, most recently Made in Canada. MacDonald was last on stage in the spring of 2001 when she starred in a sold-out production of Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) at the Bluma Appel Theatre in Toronto. Currently, MacDonald is host of the CBC series Life and Times.

    Her more recent work for theatre includes the play The Arab's Mouth, the libretto for the chamber opera Nigredo Hotel, the collectively created The Attic, The Pearls and Three Fine Girls in which she also performed, and, most recently, the book and lyrics for the musical comedy Anything That Moves.

    MacDonald's work as an actor and writer has been honoured with a number of awards, including the Governor General's Award, the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, the Canadian Authors' Association Award, the Dartmouth Award, the Gemini Award, the Chalmers Award and the Dora Mavor Moore Award.

    Fall on Your Knees was MacDonald's first novel and is available from Vintage Canada. She lives in Toronto with her partner, her daughter and two dogs.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from July 28, 2003
    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 Peenemünde, 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.

  • Quill & Quire "The prime contender for book of the fall. [T]his is an engaging and ingeniously plotted portrait of a 'perfect' 1960s Canadian family coming to terms with all its imperfections."
  • The Bookseller "[A] richly involving novel. MacDonald ... makes Jack and Mimi ring true emotionally, without cliché."
  • PW Daily starred review "A little girl's body, lying in a field, is the first image in this absorbing, psychologically rich second novel by the Canadian bestselling author of Fall On Your Knees. ...MacDonald is an expert storyteller, providing an intricate recreation of life on a military base in the 1960s...a chronicle of innocence betrayed...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."
  • Chicago Tribune "Remarkable...an engrossing, disturbing and layered tale."
  • The Calgary Herald "[A] gripping, twisty plot with powerful undercurrents of anger, abuse and even murder....MacDonald is a stunningly good writer....Her novels are fleshy books, solid as their length and heft....MacDonald doesn't falter....The Way The Crow Flies...secures for MacDonald a place, forever, in Canadian literature."
  • The Edmonton Journal "[A] hopeful and satisfying finale....[T]his novel has close to perfect pitch."
  • The Daily News (Halifax) "MacDonald's careful navigation of the minds of her people is astonishingly accurate; so wholly formed are her characters that you may find yourself talking out loud to them as you read. She has us. ...[A] profoundly Canadian novel....This is a big, beautiful book just waiting for you to walk into its marvellous world and then walk out some days later, a slightly different, perhaps slightly sadder person."
  • The London Free Press "[Readers will] find The Way The Crow Flies an engaging, very cleverly written coming-of-age story about a precocious young girl named Madeleine."
  • Maclean's "The Way the Crow Flies [is] a mesmerizing recreation of a vanished era and a lost childhood. ... [MacDonald's] depiction of a vulnerable girl almost destroyed by the confluence of global politics and local murder is rendered with beauty and passion."
  • Toronto Star "Ann-Marie MacDonald's big novel generates a strong emotional pull....suspense and the evocation of feeling on the author's part continue to drive the reader's interest forward to the very last page....MacDonald touches some deeply moving and insightful themes -- the deliberate assertion of nothingness which is behind human evil, the effort of guilty children to shield their innocent parents from knowledge."
  • The Chronicle-Herald (Halifax) "[E]xtraordinary in its scope and unerringly accurate in its portrayal of life on an air force station in the early 1960s....It's all we could have hoped for and more from MacDonald. The Way the Crow Flies deserves the BEST accolade found in the term bestseller, while not all of the wildly popular books do."
  • Elm Street "[T]he pages practically turn themselves...irresistibly readable....[MacDonald has] written a love song to the innocence and optimism of the post-war generation."
  • Brian Bethune, Maclean's "Neither Deafening nor Garbo Laughs...match the combination of ambition and achievement that marks The Way the Crow Flies, a mesmerizing recreation of a vanished era and a lost childhood....Her depiction of a vulnerable girl almost destroyed by the confluence of global politics and local murder is rendered with beauty and passion....Universal truth through the alchemy of writing."
  • People magazine, Critic's Choice "This extraordinary follow-up to Fall on Your Knees, is both a head-spinning murder mystery and an absorbing exploration of morality, innocencelost and the lengths to which parents and children will go to protect each other. Astonishing in its depth and breadth, it artfully weaves one family's struggles into the fabric of the Cold War."
  • The Hamilton Spectator "Every bit as luminous and poignant as Fall On Your Knees.... The Way The Crow Flies is...liberally sprinkled with small yet resonant grace notes, seemingly offhand observations about matters or sent

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