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Leave Her to Heaven

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  419 Ratings  ·  64 Reviews
This classic bestselling novel about a man who encounters a woman whose power to destroy is as strong as her power to love evokes Hemingway in its naturalistic portrayal of elemental forces in both nature 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. Whe
Paperback, 432 pages
Published October 1st 2007 by Chicago Review Press (first published 1944)
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Nov 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: general-fiction
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
Jan 15, 2015 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Laura, Wanda et al
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
This was a trashy novel in a clothbound disguise. It's one of the many mysterious books that I've found in my moms house. Mysterious because no one remembers buying them or bringing them there. I vaguely remember the movie with Gene Tierney. I hate book Quinton, but movie Quinton was Vincent Price.

I felt like the book was following all the film code rules, it was strange. Ellen was the Bad Woman, which means interesting and complex, but EVIL. Ruth was the Good Woman, very agreeable and bland. I'
Feb 04, 2010 rated it liked it
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
classic reverie
Even though the movie was great, the book like always is well worth the read & more details which makes it a wonderful read! The only trouble is this kindle edition had a fair amount of errors that I reported to Amazon via the kindle device. Looking forward to reading more of Ben Ames Williams.
the gift
i do not know if this is truly a three, rating up from two because I did read it in one sitting, so easy, fast reading. reading inspired by the gene tierney movie, favourite of a friend, watched several years ago, and what bothered me then continues to bother me. that is, the strange passivity of the man, the obvious evil, in omission rather than action or plot, motivated by insane jealousy which seems to be her key characteristic, even in close inspection. then the revelations of motivation com ...more
Mar 07, 2015 rated it did not like it
This is a mess! The pacing is all over the place, the characters are ridiculous--not only are they all good or all bad, they are as thin as tissue paper, and the writing--Oh Dear Me!

I like descriptive writing as well as the next person, but what I do NOT like is repetitive descriptive writing. Let's talk about foxes as an example. On page 14, Williams writes: "querulous whining bark of a fox not far away." Then on page 143 he writes: "the whining bark of foxes in the night." If that's not enough
Aug 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I held back from reading others reviews, because I knew it'd be easy to take a shallow approach. The way Ben Ames Williams writes this novel, is done so incredibly well, especially for a book of this length. Seldom, and briefly, did my excitement waiver to find out what happens next. The overall situation, set in the 1940s or so, that begins is a simple, yet crucial part of the story, and could simply happen to anyone if you crossed an equally ravishing, intelligent, and psychotic woman who know ...more
Jun 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 03, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: oldfavorites, romance
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
May 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Una historia bastante interesante que demuestra las locuras de las que son capaces las personas celosas. Al principio no llamaba mucho mi atención pero cuando comencé a leerlo la historia me atrapo totalmente y valió la pena.
Dec 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
May 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was an amazing book!I was hooked immediately.While Mike Dennis narration could have used some polish, it was really good.A man falls for a woman who promises to 'never let him go'.Little does he know that even after she is dead, she is still pulling the strings.No ghosts, but plenty of thrills .A chilling look into the make up of a sick mind.I was provided this book free by the author,narrator or publisher for review.
Sep 22, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: delaware, fiction
I was so disappointed with this book. The first two off his books I read were great, this was terrible.. Some of the characters were a bit interesting but the author never made any good use of them. A bore all the way through for me, very predictable.
Cana Gauthier
May 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
I seek out books that have been turned into classic movies. This is one of my favorites.
Kirsten Feldman
May 14, 2017 rated it did not like it
Literally and figuratively this one stayed stuck in the margins for me.
Jim Thomas
Aug 17, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2017
The classic film was much better for a change
I Lt. Kimberly Landen
Jun 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
that is sad to be vanished cause one is jealous and does not trust you
Feb 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: old-movies, fiction
I had an idea that it might be fun to experience the reverse for a change--read books that movies I like are based on. They always say the book is better, so putting it to the test. Now the movie Leave Her to Heaven is one of my absolute favorites and gave me a whole new appreciation of Gene Tierney (sorry, I am not a big fan of Ghost and Mrs. Muir--I think the plot is creepy and that the role seemed better suited for someone like Loretta Young instead of Tierney). Basically every scene with Tie ...more
Bailey Marissa
Feb 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Confession: I watched the movie before reading the book (but in my defence I didn't know there was a book when I did) and that is honestly the only thing that kept me from DNFing this book (something I refuse to do).

Non-spoiler review: If you want to see an example of Total Depravity, Ellen is perfect. Any insult that you can think of would fit her. She is selfish, manipulative, and disgusting.

(view spoiler)
Jan 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
My mom's bookshelves were a treasure trove, and this was an all time favourite. Would love to read it again.
Apr 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
My parents were both avid readers and often discussed their reading choices with me. This is probably why I have an appreciation for classic literature between the 1930s to the 1970s.
Leave Her to Heaven by Ben Ames William is one such classic, published in 1944. I had previously read two of his historical fiction novels and was excited to listen to an audiobook of one of his other works. I was rewarded with another excellent story.

Leave Her to Heaven does not actually have any dates in terms of
Aug 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
I almost gave up on this listen...something I RARELY do. Call me stubborn, but I will plow through something I start just because I don't want to be a quitter, even to myself.

I was so frustrated with Harland and Ellen before they even got married. And then their first year of marriage and the destruction it caused almost made me quit. But my sheer stubbornness made me keep going. The last quarter to a third of this book paid me back for my stubbornness.

I can't really go into why I wanted to sto
Dani Massaro
Apr 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. I was initially intrigued by the idea of a 1940s novel focused on a female main character, and wondered if I would enjoy reading about Ellen Berent from the perspective of a male writer of the era. I found that Leave Her to Heaven was well-written, engaging, enjoyable, and in the end, rewarding. I've never seen the movie based on it, despite being a classic film buff, but I plan to now. The physical imagery and character development were enough to keep me interested, ...more
Apr 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I had to pause several times during the book just to calm down. I was often outraged that Ellen could get away with so many of her wrongdoings. She was a completely selfish, horrible woman. I had a lot of anger for her. I really felt a connection to these characters and the story. There were so many beautiful words and scenes in this book. I think it captured so much of what I imagine that time period was like. I really enjoyed it.
The performance was great. I didn't love the voice he used for R
Linda Orvis
Feb 05, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Bill FromPA
Oct 02, 2014 rated it liked it
The book has two big set pieces involving natural disasters, a flood and a forest fire, that are eliminated in the screenplay, I suspect due to budget issues. This robs the film of the book’s metaphorical equation of the heroine’s destructiveness with that of nature. In general, the film’s location work and Technicolor make a worthy attempt to capture the book’s natural settings, but I found the novel consistently more evocative. The trial at the end of the story is also more memorable and provi ...more
Jan 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
My grandmother gave me this book years ago after an "adventure" to find it as it was out of print. She insisted I would love it and true to her other book recommendations (including East of Eden and The Thorn Birds)- I did! I can not believe i put off reading it for so long. With a slow start I sat on my couch thinking "ok nana... What were you thinking? I must be missing something." But 30 pages in I was hooked. With twists you never expect and one of the most cold hearted and vicious female le ...more
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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
More about Ben Ames Williams...