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Historical Fiction Novel by Monica Chenault-Kilgore
Spanning from the joyous peak of the 1930s jazz era to the Great Depression and civil rights movement, Long Gone, Come Home weaves a poetic tale of love, life, and loss as one woman learns the true meaning of home.
About The Book
Birdie Jennings dreams of a big life beyond her small town of Mt. Sterling, Kentucky, beyond her mundane job tying tobacco leaves at Wrights Factory, beyond her position as the baby of the family. Her life changes when she meets Jimmy Walker, a smooth-talker and dreamer. Jimmy makes big promises of a magical life filled with poetry, passion, and music, and Birdie is quickly swept off her feet. But some short years after they marry, Jimmy leaves for work and never returns, and Birdie is left behind with two toddlers and no explanation for her husband’s latest disappearance. With no support system, Birdie moves back home with her strict mother.
Just as she’s settling into her new life, Birdie witnesses a gruesome murder and flees Mt. Sterling to avoid questioning. For the first time, Birdie is truly on her own. She travels to the big cities of Cincinnati and Chicago just as she dreamed, but with a new goal: find Jimmy and bring him home. Along the way, Birdie explores the bustling jazz scenes in the hottest night clubs and backwoods juke joints. Finding her place amongst criminals and saints is tough, but Birdie is tougher, and she soon wonders if an independent life on her own terms is the better way forward.
Historical Fiction Author
At a young age, Monica Chenault-Kilgore dreamt of being a dancer on Broadway. Sparkly costumes, stage lights and an orchestra striking the first note as the velvet curtain rose made her tear up with longing for the stage. Watching performances of classic musicals from the 30’s and 40’s, with their tales of love, love lost, self-realization, and overcoming challenges to reach rewards and victories brought her great joy. Even though the dream of dancing is far in the rear view, the romance between music and storytelling during a pocket of time in history remains.
A Look Inside
We All Fly Home
A wonderful plan
Taking the road through tall trees
To the scarlet sun
Worries tossed aside
Twisting and floating on air
Dancing in the wind
The path is littered
Seasons gather at our feet
Passing over water
Seeking the deepest river
Beyond its riches
I’ll swim up to you
Your arms encircle my waist
Dripping wet we kiss
We travel away
Over dry stones in the road
Losing each other
Then we all fly home
Where alone and together
Our love lingers still
Historical Fiction Writer
LONG GONE, COME HOME
Debuts: June 6th 2023
A novel of love, family and perseverance in 1930s America
“An extraordinary tale of resilience and determination, Monica Chenault-Kilgore’s Long Gone, Come Home takes us on a journey of the 1930s jazz era and civil rights movement through the eyes of a tenacious and unforgettable heroine. Birdie’s enduring story is one of love, loss, family and survival. Despite the unexpected twists her life path took, when tragedy and fear could have prevailed, Birdie never forgot her dream, nor did she stop fighting for it. I was blown away by this powerful, heart-wrenching and ultimately hopeful debut!”
—Eliza Knight, USA TODAY bestselling author of The Mayfair Bookshop
"Monica Chenault-Kilgore’s heartfelt debut, Long Gone, Come Home, vividly captures its setting and era through the trials and triumphs of a heroine readers will root for. Nuanced and atmospheric, this is a story of people pursuing big dreams amid great injustice, and ultimately realizing the value of family and the enduring power of love."
— Kristin Beck, author of The Winter Orphans
"A remarkable story wonderfully told, Long Gone, Come Home, by Monica Chenault-Kilgore, is a historical novel with a wealth of captivating characters in a story about relationships, identity, struggles, and the heartbreak and joys of a Black woman and her family, over a decade, beginning in 1936 Kentucky. Chenault-Kilgore's main character Birdie is unforgettable—from page one, this complicated young woman grabs hold and doesn't let go until the last sentence."
— Denny S. Bryce, Bestselling Author of Wild Women and the Blues
"Monica Chenault-Kilgore's Long Gone, Come Home is a big-hearted story of perseverance, family, and ambition set against the backdrop of the Great Depression and the racial intolerances of the early 20th century. In Birdie, Chenault-Kilgore has created an unforgettable heroine whose resilience and determination will resonate long after you finish reading."
— Bryn Turnbull, international bestselling author of The Last Grand Duchess
"Long Gone, Come Home is a heart-filled tale about a young woman willing to sacrifice it all for love and family. Set against the background of the Great Depression and Jim Crow, Chenault-Kilgore's debut tugs every emotion as Birdie fights to make a way out of no way."
— Kaia Alderson, author of Sisters in Arms
"Long Gone, Come Home is a poignant and powerful debut novel set against the backdrop of the 1930s jazz era, Great Depression, and civil rights movement. Monica Chenault-Kilgore has penned a sweeping, poetic story of love and family told through the eyes of a courageous and unforgettable heroine."
— Chanel Cleeton, New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of Our Last Days in Barcelona
Reading and Writing Podcast
I had a blast speaking with host, Jeff Rutherford, who has been interviewing authors for over a decade! Click here
History, Books and Wine Podcast
A fun time with best-selling authors, Eliza Knight and Lori Ann Bailey discussing LONG GONE, COME HOME and all things lit over a glass of wine and spirits. Click here
Historical Novel Review Magazine
Featured in the New Voices column which focuses on emerging debut novelists in historical fiction. Click here
Essay: The Summer Road Trip that Reshaped My Mother appears in Zibby Magazine, a publication that offers a unique look into the life of authors, book events and highly curated literary news.