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Leave Her to Heaven

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  548 ratings  ·  83 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
...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published October 1st 2007 by Chicago Review Press (first published 1944)
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Average rating 3.97  · 
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 ·  548 ratings  ·  83 reviews


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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.-If you ever come across the classic movie from 1945 "Leave Her to Heaven", it is quite an interesting femme fatale story based on Ben Ames Williams book of the same name. I had seen the movie several time ...more
Graceann
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
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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
Bettie
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.
Michael
030416: 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 motiva ...more
Carla Remy
May 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
I think of my book reading and my memory (which isn't bad, but I read many books so it's impossible to remember them all perfectly). I read my old Goodreads reviews, and sometimes they don't match up with my recollections. So, just thinking ahead, I know I will remember this novel for its great parts, and forget how bored I often was. The forest fire scene was very good, intense and memorable. Likewise when Ellen (rather passively) murders Danny. But I didn't like all the fishing and hunting. An ...more
Nel
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
...more
Jessica
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'
...more
Sallie
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
Rikki
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
Pamela
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
...more
Sofia
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
...more
Bookish Ally
Nov 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very Americana! Also watched the 1945 film noir with Gene Tierney and Vincent Price. 3.75 stars for atmosphere!
Leyla
Jun 07, 2019 rated it liked it
It had moments, in the middle where I was totally into it, but the beginning and the end were just too slow for me. The only saving grace was Ellen who was so beastly that it made it totally worth it. I wish Ben Ames Williams could have focused a bit more on her and her psychological issues, maybe showed her as a child more, a teenager and how she manipulated Richard more convincingly. I could not understand Richard's mentality at all where it concerned his brother and his demise. For me, the ho ...more
Carolynne
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
Annelisa
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 E ...more
Carolyn Page
Mar 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Neither thriller, nor chiller, nor good solid mystery, to paraphrase a saying. The best I can describe it is as a kind of time-transcending love-child of "Gone Girl" and a Perry Mason mystery, maybe raised as a foster child by "Gone with with Wind".

Ellen is an intensely jealous and selfish woman, skilled in the manipulation of those around her, with the exception of those she's wronged or wise enough to see past her veneer-- and her adopted sister Ruth, who is essentially this book's "Melanie"-
...more
Kristie
Nov 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book. I listened to it on Audible (which I recommend) and could not put it down. It was written in 1944 and provides a fabulous insight into the everyday life at the time. The language - which at times might feel a bit dated - is another interesting insight into how people expressed themselves and interacted then. The book is at once a romance and a psychological thriller. Set mostly in Maine and New Mexico, it is also a beautiful descriptor of the natural world. Finally, ...more
Stephanie
Apr 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book started off very slow going but about halfway through started to gain a more interesting pace. I switched from reading the physical book to listening to the audiobook so I would be able to get through it better. Sorry I feel I have to explain...my attention span is quite short so listening while I do my mundane duties helps me read more books otherwise they would all live in the DNF pile. Anywho, this was a bookclub read which I’m happy I experienced but definitely wouldn’t have chosen ...more
Anne
Jul 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Elizabeth
Mar 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was FANTASTIC. Like, a way better, more plot twisty version of 'Gone Girl'. In fact, I'm convinced Gillian Flynn based her character of Amy on Ellen in this book. The structure was really interesting, hooked me from the first scene, which I then had to go back and re-read immediately after I finished the book. The ending is in fact, the beginning. Such a great noir read, and the courtroom scenes were handled really well. Even though this was written so long ago, it still felt fresh and ...more
Peter
Apr 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Saw the movie and decided to read the book after my husband gifted me a beautiful first edition copy! Not only was the book an extremely readable and fun melodrama, the pages themselves felt historical. Thoroughly enjoyed the first 2 acts, however once a certain character leaves the scene, it all goes downhill. Courtroom dramas always feel a bit ::yawn:: to me, and this is not particularly special or different.

Almost a 5 star book if not for the slow last act and the clear misogyny that rears it
...more
Deedra
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.
Rita
Aug 11, 2018 rated it liked it
As another reviewer commented, Harland is a character who thinks with his penis. Ellen Harland is a master manipulator. This author certainly knows how to make you hate his character. Ellen is a well-fleshed-out character that is beautiful on the outside, and a hideous, reeking monster on the inside. The feeling I got from Richard Harland was of a wife-whipped man, but not much more. The last part, the court scenes, did drag on a bit. Overall, however, worth the read.
Nancy
Jul 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loved this one. I’d never heard of it or the movie, but I read it for a classics book club. Loved the writing, the settings, the courtroom drama, the characters, the plot. Loved the way it circled back to the beginning. I just thought it was great. Also realized how little people have changed in many ways since 1944. Had to see the movie after I read the book. The book was, as always, so much better.
Lindsay
Sep 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
I love stumbling upon these old bestsellers. Leave Her to Heaven was written in 1944 and the hit movie was released a year later. The beautiful, manipulative and obsessive heroine who will stop at nothing to win and keep the love of a famous novelist. These older books are just written differently with more of a slow burn with good character development vs a lot of current thrillers that are more “in your face.” Looking forward to watching the movie!
John
Sep 22, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction, delaware
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.
Kirsten Feldman
May 14, 2017 rated it did not like it
Literally and figuratively this one stayed stuck in the margins for me.
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.
Marine Captain  Kimberly Landen
that is sad to be vanished cause one is jealous and does not trust you
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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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