Book Tour: This Familiar Heart – a Memoir

This Familiar Heart by Babette Fraser Hale, Book Blog Tour April 16-April 25, 2024. Book Cover on the left. Black and White photo of a couple, both smiling. He has curly hair, hers is dark, long, and straight.


Babette Fraser Hale

Memoir / Relationships / Aging / Grief
Publisher: Winedale Publishing
Date of Publication: April 2, 2024
Number of Pages: 312 pages 


Book cover for This Familiar Heart. Black and White photo of a couple, both smiling. He has curly hair, hers is dark, long, and straight.

In this intimate rendering of a relationship, we learn how deceptive surface impressions can be.

Leon Hale, author of Bonney’s Place, was sixty years old, a “country boy” who wrote about rural Texans with humor and sensitivity in his popular column for The Houston Post and, later the Houston Chronicle. Babette Fraser at thirty-six was a child of privilege, a city girl educated abroad, struggling in her career while raising a young son. No one thought it could work.

Even Hale himself held serious doubts. But it did endure. The interior congruencies they discovered through a long and turbulent courtship knit them tightly together for the rest of his life.

And when he died during the Pandemic isolation period, searing levels of grief and doubt threatened Babette’s understanding of the partnership and marriage that had sustained her for forty years. Had he really been the person she thought he was? Had he kept secrets that would forever change her view of him?

In candid, evocative prose, she explores the distorted perceptions that often follow the death of a cherished spouse, and the loving resolution that allows life to go on.

TAMU Press   *   Amazon

Watch the book trailer on YouTube

Wide promo banner with book cover in the middle. Wordage on the right: A memoir of enduring love and searing loss. Title and author name on the left.


What a wonderfully written, poignant memoir and love story. The book reads like a novel and is incredibly hard to put down once started.

The author wrote from her heart, and I admire her honesty in sharing everything about her courtship and relationship with Houston columnist, Leon Hale. The years they had together weren’t always easy in real life, and I’m sure there were parts of their story that weren’t easy to write about. I especially enjoyed reading about how they both came to understand each other and the nuances of interactions that clarified points that had been troublesome. For instance how Babette realized that because Hale was such a good listener women often mistook that for flirtation. His interest in other women was a major sticking point in the early years of their courtship.

A memoir asks a writer to open her life and her heart for the readers, and that takes a great deal of courage. Ms. Hale has my respect for doing just that. From what I could tell, she didn’t hold anything back, including the truth about her past relationships, his past, and the new wonderings about their relationship after he died.

Hale was certainly an interesting and complex man, and Babette came to understand that he had this inherent need to always be on the move, which is why he often just left with no explanation. As she put it “The women who loved Hale, however, were left at
home with their imaginations.”

It was that aspect of their relationship that was perhaps the hardest for them both to come to terms with and be totally honest about all the ramifications it brought to their life together. The building of a lasting partnership comes through that slow realization of the truth about themselves – and each other. It was nice to share that journey with Hale and Babette and see how they came to an acceptance of each other, flaws and all.

The author made a wise choice in using the letters they’d written to each other as jumping off points for the narrative, as it seems they were both able to express their thoughts more easily with words on paper. Perhaps that’s because they were both writers, and writers tend to process many things in life by putting pen to paper.

This quote taken from one of the later chapters is such a lovely testament to their love. It reflects how they navigated the bumps in the road toward being a couple in a committed partnership. “Over time I think several changes were involved. One of them relates to the bond we formed, the way we answered each other’s loneliness.”

I truly enjoyed reading This Familiar Heart, and by the end I had a sense of knowing both of these people perhaps as deeply as they came to know each other.

Highly recommended!


Promo banner. Wordage on left: Leon Hale in Love Coming on April 16 to your bookstore and online. Cover for This Familiar Heart in the middle. Wordage on right: An enthralling picture of the long romance that blessed these two. (Quote from Judy Alter.) This Texas love story is everything a story about Leon Hale should be. (Quote from Karleen Koen.)



Author photo. Smiling woman with short hair wearing glasses and a red blouse.

Babette Fraser Hale is the author of A Wall of Bright Dead Feathers, 2022 winner of the debut fiction award from the Texas Institute of Letters. Her stories have received notice from Best American Short Stories, 2015 and the Meyerson Award from Southwest Review. In addition to writing fiction, Babette has been a magazine feature writer, columnist, contributing editor, book editor, and publisher. She lives in Texas.



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