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Enter for a Chance to Win Queen of the Air

Like today’s Beyoncé, Madonna, and Cher, she was known to her vast public by just one name, Leitzel. There may have been some regions on earth where her name was not a household expression, but if so, they were likely on polar ice caps or in the darkest, deepest jungles.

Leitzel – Queen of the Air – was born into Dickensian circumstances, and became a princess and then a queen. She was not much bigger than a good size fairy, just four-foot-ten and less than 100 pounds. In the first part of the 20th century, she presided over a sawdust fiefdom of never-ending magic. She was the biggest star ever of the biggest circus ever, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, The Greatest Show on Earth.

In her life, Leitzel had many suitors (and three husbands), but only one man ever fully captured her heart. He was the handsome Alfredo Codona, the greatest trapeze flyer that had ever lived, the only one in his time who, night after night, executed the deadliest of all big-top feats, The Triple – three somersaults in midair while traveling at 60 m.p.h. The Triple, the salto mortale, as the Italians called it, took the lives of more daredevils than any other circus stunt.

Read “The Result of a Long-ago Afternoon,” author Dean Jensen’s article on the surprising genesis of Queen of the Air, circus history that reads like a novel.

From Queen of the Air by Dean JensenFrom Queen of the Air

About the Author

DEAN JENSEN is the author of three earlier books focusing on subjects from the worlds of the circus, carnivals, and the vaudeville stage. Jensen was an art critic and arts writer for the Milwaukee Sentinel (now the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) and has received numerous awards for his writing. He now operates an eponymously named contemporary art gallery in Milwaukee. Learn more at DeanJensenGallery.com.
  • Jen

    I loved Water for Elephants! This book looks perfect for my book club. Thanks for sharing it with us so far in advance – fun!

  • http://www.facebook.com/melissa.j.ahmed Melissa Jane Ahmed

    I would love to read this.!!! Sounds interesting.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jack.ripple Jack Ripple

    This book will be a must read!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/vonna.ritter.5 Vonna Ritter

    looks like a good book

  • http://twitter.com/Loopy_Librarian The Loopy Librarian

    Two books have recently created an interest for me in the circus: Water for Elephants and The Night Circus. Two vastly different books with two vastly different circuses, but each magical in its own way. The story of Miss Leitzal is one that I would very much like to read. Thanks for the giveaway!

    • http://www.facebook.com/katerados Kate Rados Hernandez

      I still have to read Night Circus, but I’ve heard so many good things – thanks for reminding me!

      • diana

        This was a great book and I really loved it.

  • amanda

    really excited to read this book!

  • Sandie W

    I love the whole idea of reading forward…what a great way to pass on a fantastic read!

    • Kira, editor @ Read It Forward

      Thanks, Sandie! We’re so glad you like to Read It Forward as much as we do!

  • Linda’s

    Great books! LOVE THEM…

  • http://www.facebook.com/tackettfamilyky Kelley Tackett

    I can’t wait to read this book! Read It Forward always picks winners!

    • Kira, editor @ Read It Forward

      Thanks so much, Kelley! We’re lucky to work with such great authors. And we’re glad you’re here!

  • http://www.facebook.com/robin.daberko Robin Daberko

    This sounds like an awesome book. Perfect for forgetting where you are for a while. Hope I win…X

  • http://www.facebook.com/TaylorPaigeLanick Taylor Lanick

    Can’t wait to read it! Sounds amazing!

  • http://www.facebook.com/sylvia.reddom Sylvia Reddom

    great contest –interesting history lesson I think also

  • http://www.facebook.com/making.cents.1 Making Cents

    Thank you!

  • http://www.facebook.com/sandi.mojzuk Sandi Mojzuk

    Had always dreamed of running away and joining the circus.

  • jo

    Sounds wonderful

  • http://twitter.com/BrowsingAtlas Julie Wetz

    I loved “Water for Elephants,” and the middle-grade novel “The Floating Circus” by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer. I can’t get enough of circus stories. “Queen of the Air” is going to be fantastic!

    • Kira, editor @ Read It Forward

      Thanks for the recommendation, Julie! I will check out The Floating Circus for my neice.

    • http://www.facebook.com/TaraSantiago Tara Frank-Santiago

      Water for Elephants was awesome!!! I will have to check for The Floating Circus =0)

  • paige

    I have always been intrigued by circus life. In fact, when I was a little girl, I wanted to grow up to a trapeze artist in the circus! It just seems so magical!

  • sam

    I remember in like 3rd grade readind about the circus, and being so interested in it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000147657389 Carol Ann Hughes

    I want to read this book…sounds extremely entertaining

  • Deb H

    I love everything about the circus. Water for Elephants and The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb were terrific, and I have no doubt that Queen of the Air is just as wonderful.

  • http://www.facebook.com/TaraSantiago Tara Frank-Santiago

    I love your site, I get so many awesome book recommendations from here =0)

  • ratherski

    Sounds intriguing! Something a little different is always welcomed.

  • adminofficer

    Thanks for the Opportunity.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sweepslut.monterey Sweepslut Monterey

    Fantaastic job, so excited to read it!

  • Karin

    Sounds like an interesting book, but I’m tired of entering and not getting any books. No thank you.

  • Laurel Klem

    Sounds like a very entertaining read.

  • Mary Withrow

    I read the beginning and it sounded almost like a fairy tale. Can’t wait to read the rest!

  • http://www.facebook.com/dodgecitywoman Toni Lamb

    read it forward is a great website, and makes terrific recommended reads.

  • Robin Wilson

    Just wanted to say thank you for the chance to win and read this fascinating book! Had heard (I am pretty sure) of her before and just love true stories like this! New fan!

  • http://www.facebook.com/lou.anne.509 Lou Anne

    This is great!

  • Marlene V.

    Thanks for the chance to win – I need a new book to read.

  • Carrie

    i need to read!

  • http://www.facebook.com/debra.corbin.18 Debra Corbin

    sounds like an awesome book! thanks for the chance to win one!

  • MimiB

    Like others, I’ve read and enjoyed The NIght Circus and Water for Elephants. As a child I watched Dumbo and The Greatest Show on Earth. I’ve been to several circuses over the years and the magic has stayed with me, even as I know those are flesh and blood people performing and running the shows. Still, they create such a wonderful fantasy, I can practically smell the peanuts, manure and straw in my imagination. It’s about time I read a true life story about the circus. I’m putting this on my “too read” list.

  • Cheryll

    I hope I win this one. It looks so good !

  • carl

    wow

  • http://twitter.com/wbrine11 Wanda Brine

    So excited today to receive a message that I have won a copy of Queen on the Air by Dean Jensen!! Cannot wait to review it and then pass it forward! Thanks so much to the Read It Forward for the opportunity!

    • Wanda B

      I got the book in the mail yesterday! Looking forward to reading it! Thanks Read It Foward! I love winning books!!

    • Wanda Brine

      I received an ARC of Queen of the Air by Dean Jensen compliments of Read It Forward. I appreciated the opportunity to read this rare gem. The author shares the life story of Lillian Leitzel, travelling across the decades, as an icon within the circus world. The author is well-researched and writes with descriptive detail the journey, the tragedy, the love story and untimely end. The reader is taken back in time to experience the background scenes of what living within the circus community truly meant. We learn about the various famous circus families including the Flying Codonas, their growth and inevitable successes and failures. The story unfolds the highs and lows of Leitzel’s journey, the lavish living, the stardom and the despair. Her life and story are a part of history to which I had no former knowledge and I was left feeling as though I had relived the moments alongside her. The author portrays the love story between Leitzel and Alfredo in a raw but sensitive manner. I enjoyed learning about this fascinating part of the past, to which can never be duplicated. Leitzel was both a Queen and a legend. I would recommend to all readers who may be interested in a piece of history they are sure to enjoy! 4 stars rating

  • http://www.facebook.com/vickie.hamilton.104 Vickie Hamilton

    I loved Water For Elephants too…a small part of it was filmed in my hometown here in Georgia. It was pretty exciting news around here.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pat.mazzei.5 Pat Mattes Mazzei

    Would love to read this book. Thanks

  • bethvollbach

    I won a copy of QUEEN OF THE AIR and received it yesterday. Thank you. I’ll read it as soon as I finish the book I’m currently reading and then get back with you to tell you what I think.

  • Antoinette

    Thank you so much — I received Queen of the Air last week and can’t wait to read it. Winning it was such a surprise.

  • Bookworm

    I won this book and can’t wait to read it! I am so excited

  • Rachel C

    Thanks for this great book!! Just finished and loved it. I reviewed it on goodreads.

  • Lunch Lady

    I received my copy and couldn’t put it down. Great book!

  • jigsawinc

    I have started reading Queen of the Air and it is SO good. It hooked me with the first paragraph and I have to force myself to find a stopping place so I can get some sleep at night!

  • Bookworm

    I am a third of the way through and I can’t put it down. Thank you again for picking me to win the book!