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Leave Her to Heaven (Rediscovered Classics)

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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 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. When he found that she returned his adoration, he could marry her with joy, bothered just momentarily by a strange premonition. It was only later, when the premonition became a horrifying reality, that he realized the glowing loveliness of the woman he had married was the true face of evil.


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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 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. When he found that she returned his adoration, he could marry her with joy, bothered just momentarily by a strange premonition. It was only later, when the premonition became a horrifying reality, that he realized the glowing loveliness of the woman he had married was the true face of evil.

30 review for Leave Her to Heaven (Rediscovered Classics)

  1. 5 out of 5

    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 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 times over the years & Gene Tierney was superb as Ellen. I had forgot Jeanne Crain & Vincent Price were also in this one which was cast in perfection IMO. One of my favorite genre besides classics, is finding books based on movies I have seen over the years & every time I feel the book well worth the read even though I know the plot. This book showed me sides into characters that one really can't portray adequately except through the author's intended words. There is a basic formula that the director follows but changes things up & in this movie that was done which the book reveals a less defined situation.The book starts off with a man, Richard Harland, returning home after a long ordeal with the law.The start of the book comes full circle at the end, and there are extra insights of the townspeople explained at the very end. Richard Harland & his brother Danny, who is more like a young son because of their ages, are the only family left for each other & a special relationship is formed early on & cemented after their parents' death. Richard, a young author, decides to write his first novel & that becomes an instant best seller. While Richard is on a train to New Mexico to see a friend who Danny & him have become friendly with during their adventures together but Danny no longer can partake in due to crippling effects of polio, he sees a beautiful young woman falling asleep while reading his novel. He is intrigued & thinks of her constantly and finds out she is to be part of the party that will be at his friend's ranch. He has been given many ominous warnings about Ellen's behavior by all that know her & especially her bitter mouthed mother. Ellen has always had her way & we see what lengths she goes to in this story to achieve this. Wonderfully written to the insights of human nature.

  2. 4 out of 5

    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 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 a holiday in New Mexico, he has no idea what he's let himself in for. Ellen's web is an intricate one; she loves Richard so much that she doesn't want to share him with anyone, ever, and she goes to great lengths to keep him to herself. Even though I've seen the film, I found the story suspenseful, and I especially appreciated how Williams bookended the novel with Harland's arrival at his woodland getaway and his thoughts (and those of his neighbors) during that arrival. This was masterful, and tied the story together really well. I don't know that I would have given the story five stars if it had been released in 2012, because the solutions to the characters' problems would have been more easily reached, I feel, but when I place myself in 1944, it's a cracking read and must have been quite something for readers to discover for the first time back then.

  3. 4 out of 5

    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 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 didn't enjoy it. Firstly Richard really is a dumb fuck, shortly after meeting Ellen on a train to New Mexico he discovers that they're both staying at the ranch of a mutual friend. From the moment he steps off of the train there are red flags and warning bells everywhere to stay the hell away from Ellen. Her own mother seems to hate her and even says to a bunch of strangers that her daughter was so possessive of her recently deceased father that she wouldn't have been surprised if she found out Ellen had slept with him. This is coming from her own mother, her own mother. How much more of a warning does one need that this bitch is damaged and just aint right in general? Ellen plays it cool and aloof to pique Richard's interest and it works, then she somehow manipulates Richard into marriage. The honeymoon is a short one for Ellen as she quickly remembers that Richard has a disabled little brother named Danny whom he adores, she decides she hates his guts even before meeting him because Richard not only loves him but he also knows Richard better than she does. Get this, Ellen tells Richard several times that she doesn't like Danny and that she's jealous of him. Richard doesn't seem troubled by this confession, he just takes in stride and laughs it off. Goodbye Danny, we hardly knew ye. After Richard witnesses her allowing Danny to drown, she lies and tells him that she's pregnant to keep him from ratting her out. And that's when this story completely lost me. What fun is there when Richard knows what she did instead of just merely suspecting it? The rest of the story comes hurtling at you like a freight train at a car stranded on the tracks. It's predictable and boring, so very boring. Save yourself the trouble and watch the movie.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Bettie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. (view spoiler)[Bettie's Books The rating, any status updates, and those bookshelves, indicate my feelings for this book. (hide spoiler)] (view spoiler)[Bettie's Books The rating, any status updates, and those bookshelves, indicate my feelings for this book. (hide spoiler)]

  5. 5 out of 5

    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 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 motivation coming to- it seems to me- more damning guilt rather than less... could have been about half as long, but the resolution court scenes are easy to read, almost all dialogue, the various people rather thinly defined, plot is not elaborate, psychology unique, in recompense... this was a best seller of its time (1944), has a few good scenes, and the movie was sunny noir... slow in the second half, with curious passages about creating, writing, about ordinary lives, though this is itself not ordinary... noir? well it does have simple, obsessive, twisted psychology, to move the plot, but the reader is returned to dry safe land by the end... watch the movie, tierney is believable and beautiful...

  6. 4 out of 5

    Carla Remy

    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 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. And, especially when it got to the trial, the length and detail was just... painstaking.

  7. 5 out of 5

    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 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 was fine, the moon was bright, Ellen was lovely and tender here beside him; yet there was a vibration in the very earth itself, transmitted from the rocks on which the long swells beat, which seemed to warn him that this sweet and stable world was insecure... "You don't understand how much I love you, Richard,' she said gravely. 'You'll never understand how jealously I love you. I hate sharing your thoughts with anyone else at all.' The hot passion in her tones was like the first rumble of a distant storm."

  8. 4 out of 5

    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' 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'm sure a lot of women who read this book found themselves identifying with Ellen sometimes and then feeling guilty. Another film code sort of thing was that Ellen and Harland had twin beds even when their marriage was happy. There is a history about married people having twin beds, but I'm sure in the 40's they would share, despite what we see in the movies. I just felt he could have went further. There were some insightful moments sometimes. Like when Ellen told Harland that women like reading about women. Someone should have told the writer that women like reading about complex women, and would therefor be bored after (view spoiler)[Ellen died (hide spoiler)] . There were some really creepy moments too. So I guess I recommend the book, but only if you find it in a rented cabin by a lake.

  9. 5 out of 5

    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 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, wanted to see how far Ellen would go. That's good writing. It's developed at a slow pace, which on today's world of instant gratification is a jewel-like gift. It's a story I'll return to again and again, probably finding nuances I missed earlier. The movie is well-done; Gene Tierney is perfect as Ellen, Jeanne Crain develops Ruth into a real person and Cornel Wilde is Richard Harland. It's technically lush and is basically the story as it appears in the book, with a few changes.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Rikki

    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 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 knows exactly what she wants. I find little point in bashing the characters and their choices here. While there are characters to like and dislike, parts you enjoy and don't, the story is incredibly well written and enjoyable. A page turner, no doubt. Good trumps evil, which is never a let down. Each character is created to a unique and true style that I've come to admire greatly in good writers. I recommend if you enjoy a well thought and scripted novel.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Pamela

    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 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, on page 208 there is "the whining bark of a fox." I get it. Foxes have whining barks. This is only one example. There are others. The idea for this book is good, but there is just not enough "there" there to make a 400+ page novel. A short story perhaps if he could pump up his characters, tidy up his pacing, and cut out 2/3 of the freakin' foxes. I made it to 70% (page 299) and gave up. Too much good stuff out there to read without wasting eye-time of something as pathetic as this.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sofia

    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 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 such creativity... I own this book, it's an old version (43 years) and it seems it's one of the few in spanish, I feel glad. It's like a jewel for me. I can't wait to watch the movie and I'm searching desperately for others books. It's being hard to find them.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Bookish Ally

    Very Americana! Also watched the 1945 film noir with Gene Tierney and Vincent Price. 3.75 stars for atmosphere!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Leyla

    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 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 hold that Ellen had over him was not portrayed well enough for me to believe why he did not completely lose his shit on her when he saw what she had done or at least showed more depth to his reaction. I was annoyed with Richard and Ellen's sister. They read to me like completely weak characters who were supposed to be the good guys. They were both duds.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Bailey Marissa

    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)[ SHE DROWNS HER DISABLED BROTHER-IN-LAW AND CAUSES HERSELF TO MISCARRY HER BABY AND FRAM 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)[ SHE DROWNS HER DISABLED BROTHER-IN-LAW AND CAUSES HERSELF TO MISCARRY HER BABY AND FRAMES HER COUSIN/SISTER FOR HER 'DEATH' WHICH WAS A SUICIDE SHE IS DISGUSTING (hide spoiler)] The writing itself is amazing and there are breaks in the chapter so that I had stopping points when I got mad but I wouldn't loose my place. Recommended 14+ for Ellen being manipulative, miscarriage, and a murder.

  16. 4 out of 5

    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 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. Any length. Still an absorbing read.

  17. 4 out of 5

    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 E 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 Elektra complex", and it sums up Ellen Berent completely. From the time Richard Harland lays eyes on her, he is smitten, but he has no idea just how dangerous, Ellen's brand of "love" can really be. There is something timeless about the way that individuals have, and still, get caught up with people who are not good for them, and Williams handles his subject matter well. This is very much a nature book and, save for a few locales, very much a Northern/New England book. That prim attitude with its vestiges of Puritanism might explain why people seem so shocked at Ellen's behavior. Williams does an excellent job of describing the landscapes and atmosphere (although his descriptions sometimes suffer from clunkiness, as I will explain later) which contrast and even foreshadow the events in the characters' lives. The author also does well in framing different incidents through the characters' perspectives. For example, he'll describe a scene, start the next chapter by showing that same scene though another character's eyes, from the beginning, and then return to the cliffhanger in the previous chapter. It's an unusual technique, one that Williams excels at. Regarding the characters, everyone has their place in the sun. Even the most minor of characters get at least a few sentences describing who they are and a bit of their backstory, which enhances the overall nature of the story. The text is not difficult to understand, but it can be a little hard to read at times. The author's style has dated somewhat (not necessarily in a negative way) as he writes with a meter and syntax that modern readers may find cumbersome at times, myself included. He uses a lot of unnecessary semicolons and complex run-on sentences; some of the paragraphs throughout the text were so thick that one finds oneself going back to the beginning of the phrase in order to find out exactly what the author meant. There are also some slightly outdated notions in the story. None of the women, for example attend college. However, Williams also subverts tropes that modern readers may interpret as sexist. For example, Ruth's (my favorite character) attitude might suggest that the ideal woman is one who bends to her husband's wishes, who stands by rather than venturing out on her own. But just because she's kind doesn't mean that she's passive or unintelligent. In fact, she proves that meekness does not equal weakness, and that calm steadiness in the face of adversity can baffle those who don't know how to recognize softness as a form of strength, like Ellen. As for the idea that female ambition or aggressiveness is inherently evil; Ellen is not dangerous because she's different. She is dangerous because she's evil, likes to hurt people, and has disdain for anything that does not put her front and center. Ruth can be different (which she already is) with drive and ambition, and it wouldn't be a problem, because she doesn't have the cruelty and narcissism that Ellen does. The main reason why I haven't given this book the full five starts is that I am still not convinced of Harland's justification for not telling the truth about Ellen's murder of Danny. Throughout the novel, he kept saying that "his hands were tied" and that things would be "worse" if he revealed what happened, but how? Ruth would have backed him up, Leick would have backed him up, the Robies would have backed him up, even Ellen's own mother know what she was capable of. It was easier for him to tell the truth rather than keep up the subterfuge; once people realized what Ellen had done, coupled with her past behaviors, there would have been a clear case against her. (Then again, who knows what she might have done had he asked for a divorce?) She killed his baby brother, who had POLIO. It was maddening to hear him say that he "had" to cover for her, when there was no real reason why. The only reasons that I've been able to come up with are 1.) there is no justification and it's just one of those things that doesn't make sense or 2.) the magnitude of what Ellen did was too much for him to bear, and he would rather keep lying to himself than believe that his Ellen could commit such an act. (I also considered his pride and ego. Harland does have a very high opinion of himself, and because of his talent, demonstrates condescending behavior towards those who are not on his level, so to speak. At one point, he theorizes that he may have been attracted to Ellen because they both shared a belief that unlike themselves, other mortals were there just to be laughed at). Neither one of these satisfies me, however, and I don't think that Williams picks Harland's brain enough to give some semblance of a concrete answer. On a related note, I was perturbed by Harland's refusal to listen to his intuition. From his beginning moments with Ellen, he knew that something was off. So many unnecessary situations could have been avoided had he just paid attention to that nagging voice inside him. Despite visible feelings of discomfort, he still proceeded with the relationship, which was unwise to say the least, especially when he saw how she treated family members, both hers and his. Could he not believe that someone who looked the way she did was so corrupt. To me, these two elements are the main shortcomings of the novel. The reconciliation at the novel's end was one of the most satisfying that I've read. However, there were still some things that I wanted to hear more about. One of theses was the home life of the Berents. It would have interesting to hear more about the family dynamics, especially in Ellen and Ruth's youth, school days, etc. We know that Ellen was a terror to Ruth, but I wanted more childhood vignettes, as well as her relationship with her mother. It also would have been interesting to hear about what happened to Harland and Ruth afterwards, how he picked up his career, how their relationship progressed; the hidden romantic in me wants to know what their children would have been like. As I mentioned at the top of the review, the film is a good watch. However, as often happens, much of the nuances and complexities of the novel were lost in the translation from page to screen. Although the movie's popularity has arguably eclipsed that of the book, if one can, I highly recommend reading this before viewing the film.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn Page

    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"- 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"--she's sweet as pie and very much accustomed to making excuses for Ellen's behavior. Richard is known as "Dick", appropriately enough, because that's pretty much what gets him into this mess. Ellen is so sexy, dagnabit! The book, like the movie (you didn't think I'd go without mentioning the movie did you!) Is essentially a big long flashback, written in the third person from the perspectives of the characters named above. You know what's going on, and why. But the book is so readable, it draws you in. It's very well written, even the courtroom scenes at the end which could get dry, were juicy enough for a Perry Mason. I read the original edition. I love those hard cover editions with the uneven pages...I don't think it'd be as enjoyable if it was a modern paperback!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kristie

    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, 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, the character development is wonderful. Williams captures the stereotypic “Mainer reserve” perfectly. If you are looking for a book that will carry you away with superb description and surprising twists and turns, this is a great choice. It is a gem!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    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 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 it for myself. If you like classic mystery themed stories with some unexpected twists and turns than give this one a read. Remember it’s slow at the beginning but stick with it because it does redeem itself towards the end. Also, the audiobook was narrated quite well if you fancy a listen. ;)

  21. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This is probably my favorite book I read in a while. It was both beautiful and disturbing with its writing and psychology within each character. I found myself sympathizing with all the lives destroyed at the hands of Ellen. The ending makes me hope things will finally work out for the surviving characters, but is actually obscure and leaves the reader questioning their future. The overall tone of the book is gripping and suspenseful, making you fear what Ellen will do next. Although I labelled This is probably my favorite book I read in a while. It was both beautiful and disturbing with its writing and psychology within each character. I found myself sympathizing with all the lives destroyed at the hands of Ellen. The ending makes me hope things will finally work out for the surviving characters, but is actually obscure and leaves the reader questioning their future. The overall tone of the book is gripping and suspenseful, making you fear what Ellen will do next. Although I labelled this book as a romance, it's more of an "anti-romance," playing off of the lie of beauty and devotion that every man (and woman) dreams of in their relationship, only to face it as a form of manipulation and control in the hands of a femme fatale.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    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 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 relevant. Highly recommend!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Peter

    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 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 its head throughout the novel. 4 stars, read the book, see the movie!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Deedra

    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.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Rita

    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.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    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.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay

    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!

  28. 4 out of 5

    John

    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.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Marni

    This is another novel written in the 1940's. I was thinking that in this time it could have been a murder mystery - and it does involve murder and intrigue. However, the flowery language of the author and the depictions of women made it a bit of a slog.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kirsten Feldman

    Literally and figuratively this one stayed stuck in the margins for me.

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