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The Way the Crow Flies Paperback – Aug 17 2004


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  • Prizes and Awards: Giller Prize Shortlist 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 832 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Canada (Aug. 17 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0676974090
  • ISBN-13: 978-0676974096
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 13.2 x 4.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 635 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #78,967 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Schmadrian TOP 500 REVIEWER on March 22 2009
Format: Hardcover
I'd put off reading this novel since it came out. Mostly because of the effect that 'Fall on Your Knees' had on me. (Which included handing out more than fifty copies to friends and family since its publication.) Fear must have been part of it, fear about how much better this one might be, might not be... 'Fall' was proof to me of how great writing could be. The author writing something better might have had me intimidated (yes, I'm a writer), and yet her writing something 'not better, not even as good as' might have disappointed me so much to have had a deleterious effect. Fortunately, neither possibility resulted.

Ms MacDonald is an extremely talented writer. There is an assuredness in her writing, in how she executes what she does, that goes deep. For me, a novel (or a screenplay for that matter) has its author taking the reader by the hand, saying "I have a story for you. Walk with me while I tell it to you..." When this is done with confidence (and not just 'writerly ability, getting the vocabulary, the grammar, the construction right) the whole reading experience is taken up a level, approaching being transported. And yet she does not 'over-write'. She is not prone to 'purple prose'. She is as likely to throw out a juicy riff as she is to dig deep. Clearly a great observer of people, she understands the complexities of character and relays them with honesty and humour. Moreover, though every piece of writing is, at its core, an expression of the writer, 'Crow' is clean, unencumbered by 'at least to these eyes' literary earmarks.

This novel has a lot going on. And yes, I'm not sure that it needed to be as expansive as it is. ("Couldn't you just take out a few notes?") When I began the final 150 or so pages, I confess I did mutter 'This better be good...
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Dec 12 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is simply one of the best books I have read in a very long time. The way in which MacDonald evokes the innocence of early 60's domestic life in Canada and then shatters that image is stunning. On one level, this is a mystery and another, it is an insightful examination of the destructive power of lies. A truly great read.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By B. Boethius on July 30 2007
Format: Paperback
"The Way the Crow Flies" is one of the best books I have read this year-- I work (toil is more like it) in a bookstore, so I get to read a great many things-- mostly crap, to be honest. MacDonald's voice as a writer is so unique-- it is almost trance-inducing. She has a complete mastery of language and can take you right into the world of her characters, into their lives, into their minds. I found the story itself just as fascinating, the same way the books "Bark of the Dogwood" and "Glass Castle" are full of great characters and heartbreak. For anyone who has ever kept a secret (and who among us has not), no matter how huge or how tiny, this book is an intense reminder of the prices paid. I cried my eyes out at the end of the book--I don't want to give anything away about this story; read it and take from it what you can. My interaction with my own family will never be the same after this book.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 2 2004
Format: Hardcover
I was very hopeful when starting this novel, however I agree with the Amazon.ca & Books Canada reviews. I love the descriptions and the flow of the writing. Unfortunately, Ms. Macdonald tries to include too many details and the last 150 pages are difficult to finish and more horrific than necessary.
It has the feeling that things just aren't horrible enough and every gruesome detail needs to be revealed and forced upon you.
I felt depressed by the overly sunny beginning to the completely shattered ending. No light is left glowing. The description of the murder was excessive & not truly believable. The description of the lead character's adult life was monotonous.
There is something to the saying "Less is more".
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Format: Paperback
Since there are numerous reviews revealing the plot and characters, I will not take up time and space and go down that same road again. Contrary to many reviewers' opinions, I did not find the book depressing. On the positive side, it was a real page-turner from start to finish and one of the main characters, Madaline, kept me chuckling along the way especially in her youth. The book begins in the 60's, and for me, brought back many memories of old songs, movies and celebrieties mentioned that were long forgotten. (If you are too young to reminisce about Dion and "The Wanderer", well...you simply don't know what you missed!) There was also a touch of everything from family life, and the exuberance of youth, to rape and murder -"something for everyone," as one might say. The book is a lengthy one and has a surprise twist at the end regarding who actually committed the murder.

On the negative side, the participation of Madaline's father's (Jack's) involvement in the air force, past activities and rehashing of outdated military events become boring and tedious at best. Overall, I would recommend the book, although there may be parts of Jack's long-winded military career, which really added nothing to the book, that the reader might like to skim through or pass by entirely. It often seemed like the author was trying to write two books but decided to combine them in one, i.e., one about Madeline, her friends, family life, and murder, and one about Jack's life in the military. Somehow the two simply did not gel well together.
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