Leave Her to Heaven
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Leave Her to Heaven

3.98 of 5 stars 3.98  ·  rating details  ·  184 ratings  ·  32 reviews
This classic bestselling novel about a man who encounters a woman whose power to destroy isas strong as her power to love evokes Hemingway in its naturalistic portrayal of elemental forcesin bothnature and humanity. Ellen’s beauty was radiant, and Harland had been so struck with her personality and the strength of her character that he knew he could never leave her. When h...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published October 1st 2007 by Chicago Review Press (first published 1944)
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Graceann
Having seen the film (Gene Tierney is a big favorite of mine) and being a fan of Ben Ames Williams, I was interested to see how much of the novel had been changed in order to comply with the Hays Production Code in place in the 1940s in Hollywood. Even without that reason, I would have wanted to read it, just because Ben Ames Williams wrote it.

This is a novel for those who think the obsessed lover began with Play Misty for Me and Fatal Attraction. When Richard Harland meets Ellen Berent during...more
Hester
Ellen is beautiful but evil, Richard is stupid and thinks with his penis, and this book is nearly 200 pages too long.

I was excited to find out that this was a book, I only have the vaguest of memories of the 1945 movie and the 1988 made for TV remake, Too Good to be True, starring Patrick Duffy and Lonnie Anderson and those memories are only of Ellen sitting in the boat while Danny drowns and throwing herself down the stairs to miscarry. I remember enjoying both movies, but this book eh.... I di...more
Nel
After seeing the 1940s film, I hunted down the at times vivid and lyrical original novel. It lags in places, particularly near the end, but it's an interesting, often disturbing story with female character rare in books/film of the time. Here's a favorite passage of mine:

"Harland was conscious of a deep intangible disturbance in him, an emotional anticipation like that which one may feel before the curtain rises at the opera, when the orchestra sets the key for the tragedy to follow. The night w...more
Sofia
Nov 08, 2011 Sofia rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everybody
Shelves: favorites
2011 is being a year with good discoveries.
This book came to me by fluke. I never thought it could be so good, simply because I never heard about Ben Ames Williams after this book.

I think he's an amazing writer, very talented. I loved the characters and theirs descriptions. The author doesn't judge, he simply narrates how the things are happening and what the characters are feeling.

This story is the kind of story that we know it can be true. But we don't have other chance that get amazed with...more
Carolynne
This is a real oldie but goodie, having been a best seller in 1944! It inspired the 1945 movie with Cornel Wilde, Gene Tierney, and Jeanne Crain as Ruth, surely the most put-upon movie heroine of the decade. The book is pretty close to the movie, with a manipulative beauty who loves and captivates a famous novelist, with her gentle adopted sister in the background. So great is her obsession, Ellen will go to any length to keep her beloved Richard away from anyone who threatens their marriage. An...more
Linda
I saw this movie when I was about eleven. The book was written in 1944 (the year I was born) and the movie was filmed in 1945. The plot of the movie has never left me, and so when I found the book in an old bookstore, I was curious.

I don't know when the term sociopath came into being, but this book is about a beautiful female sociopath who manipulates, schemes, and much worse. At first I didn't think I'd ever get through it. It is written in the old style, and the author is quite a nature lover...more
Sunday
The more you think about this book afterward, the more your mind is blown.
Annelisa
Like many people, I discovered this book through the famous 1946 film with Gene Tierney and Cornel Wilde. I've found that most of the source material for classic films is either just as good as better than the film itself, and once again, I was not disappointed, as I enjoyed this book better than the film version, although the latter is very good. One has heard the saying, "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned"; change this to "Hell hath no fury like a woman with pathological jealousy and an...more
Sallie
Many people compare/contrast the book and the movie. I prefer to see them as separate entities and accept each for what it is. Both have strengths and weaknesses. That said, this is a terrific read. Ben Ames Williams digs deeply into his characters, shading them, fully developing them into complete personalities. With this book, read over several days, I found myself thinking of it when I couldn't be reading it. That's pretty rare these days. I wanted to read more, wanted to see the story unfold...more
Nancy  W'f
Read this book, like so many other people, after seeing the movie. While I generally like older fiction, this one was so dense I had a great deal of trouble wading through it. I also agree with the reviewer who thought that Richard should have heard the warning bells clanging from the start. Unless you are a fan of very detailed writing, give this one a miss. My husband, I should add, loved it.
Lee Lacy
Bit disappointed to find the author wrote the villainess more as someone easily confused in the worst possible way than someone who is truly evil. It's still worth reading for people who love the movie, as there is one large plot line that's not in the film.
Liz Gibbs
I enjoyed Harland's character and fell in love with his little brother Danny's sweet personality. Although Harland and Ellen have a strange relationship the book is worth reading. I can't say much more without giving away the plot twist.
Katy
I read this because the Gene Tierney film of the same name is so compelling. He book is pretty good, but it is at least 100 pages too long. The courtroom drama that occupies at the last 100 pages or more is overwrought, predictable, and inconsistent with the style and tone of the rest of the book. But the psychological profile of the main character-- what we would now call a borderline or narcissist -- is quite compelling. She is manipulative and self absorbed and yet somehow believable.
Joanne Midgley

This book was written in 1946 yet the story line applies to human nature we still see today. It is a mystery with many twists and turns. It was well written and reminds me of some of the classics written during that time period. I am going to research what other material Ben Ames Williams has written.
Trueboardman
Oh my the things that become bestsellers. This is such a FUNNY book, a guilty pleasure. I want to give it an extra star for the laughs. I enjoy reading the novels old classic films are based on. The movie is good because in the scene on the train they actually talk about how bad the book is. In fact the movie is pretty hysterical melodrama, too. I'll never forget the endless talk about the wild turkey hunt.
Susan
Corking good yarn, above average writing.
Robyn
I was shocked when I read this book. My incredibly sweet great aunt (Aunt Honey) gave me this book to read. Sweet aunt, book written in 1945, and the word "Heaven" in the title. This book has a very modern (and warped!) story involving a manipulative character and how her outrageous acts affect those around her (especially her unfortunate love interest). I would recommend this book!
nt
Hasta ahora ha sido el libro con el que mas horas seguidas he estado. Lo describiría como un poco triste, interesante y adictivo. Es perfecto para las personas a las que le gustan las historias en las que siempre está pasando algo, que no se de tiene demasiadas lineas en descripciones de lugares. Muy entretenido. Lo recomiendo.
Jan
I've always liked the movie, so wanted to read the book when I found it in an antique store. Definitely written a while ago (copywright in the 40s!). More twists than the movie, but also some long boring stretches. Second half is better than the first. All in all, I say just see the movie--Gene Tierney is great as a nutcase!
Leona
I found this book at a rummage sale this past summer and I wanted to read it because of the movie I saw as a child that starred Jean Tierny and Cornell Wild. The movie was great story of love and jealousy. The book was great as well. The movie followed the book almost exactly.
Rebecca
I enoyed the author's take of why people do (or act) the way they do. I have seen the movie that was based on this book and they followed the book pretty close I think a few things were changed just for production sake but the story was not changed.
Lynn Pribus
Read this one years and years ago and it has stuck in my mind -- the title and that it was gripping, although not the details of the plot. I think I'll go back and read it again. Probably too old to be downloadable to my iPod from the library...
Linda
The story was mesmerizing and chilling - it kept one guessing how the lady was going to get her comeuppance, for you knew that she would; and then, what a twist. I loved the trial scenes. The 1945 film version would be interesting.
Emily
The book was at some points dull, but it seemed to be very enjoyable at the same time. The twisted ending was very surprising and after seeing the movie I believe it is quite a unique story.
Gale
Loved this book. I'd like to see the movie. I bought the book for $2 at a local book sale knowing nothing about it. I just liked that it was an old book. I was pleasantly surprised!
Emily
Actually read the book BEFORE watching the movie. Now I can go the DVR. Hopefully screen Ellen is just as disturbing as she was in print.
Amy Fitzpatrick
Another great Ben Ames Williams story about a "greedy, jealous, sexy, murderous, heartless, shrewd woman". Well written, perfect pace...
Wendy
Wasn't as good as the movie, but I'm keeping this one only because a copy was so hard to find!
Lisa
Favorite book in the world. Can read it a million times. That Ellen is evil!
Girija
Mar 18, 2010 Girija added it
Unexpected twist- was a real thriller!
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Ben Ames Williams was born in Macon, Mississippi to Daniel Webster Williams and Sarah Marshall Ames on March 7, 1889. Just after his birth, he and his parents moved to Jackson, Ohio. Because his father was owner and editor of the Jackson Standard Journal in Ohio, Ben Williams grew up around writing, printing, and editing. In high school he worked for the Journal, doing grunt work in the beginning...more
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