Go to your preferred retailer, click to choose a format and you' ll be taken directly to their site where you can get this book.Personalize / Add More Choices
The unattractive cover is the only flaw in this otherwise thoroughly gripping, melodramatic true story of one of the most famous circus performers of all time. It begins with a family on hard times that reluctantly allows its little daughter to go away on tour throughout Latin America with a traveling circus. She is abused by the owner but rises to become one of the greatest acts in the world. But she's not the star of this story. Her daughter from that rape turns into the prodigy of prodigies called Leitzel, the Queen Of The Air. Among the many unlikely events that pepper this true story: the mother is wracked with guilt that she had to ignore her children for her career but is insanely jealous when the little girl almost immediately outshines her. Leitzel leaps from success to success with her dazzling skill as an aerialist and is soon the top attraction at the biggest circus in the world. There a young nobody in the circus falls in love with her. That teenage boy Alfredo gets to smooch with Leitzel but she's really only dallying with him. They both marry others but Alfredo is determined to become worthy of her...and turns into a member of the Flying Codona Brothers, performing the literally death-defying triple somersault while traveling at 60 miles per hour and more than a decade later reuniting with the woman he always loved. She loves him but loves fame ever so slightly more. Romance, high society, passion, disdain, celebrity, money, bold gambles, tragic failures -- it's all here in a tale that you would scoff at if it weren't true. A real life "Water For Elephants" is the inevitable comparison. Author Dean N. Jensen took literally decades to tell this story right (everyone he initially interviewed is dead now) but it was worth the wait. -- Michael Giltz
Praise for QUEEN OF THE AIR
"[A] moving and deep portrait of two central figures in a largely forgotten chapter of Americana.”
“[A] tale told in broad, bold swathes of primary color, like the gigantic posters that commemorate the big top’s golden days, yet as with any good book, delight awaits in the details, as well…
[I]rresistible…thrilling…strikes just the right balance between the intimate and the showmanly. In addition to the mystery and glamour conjured around their acts, Jensen leaves you with an awed respect for Leitzel and Codona’s almost perverse devotion to their craft and to the circus life.”
“Dean Jensen has pulled off an amazing temporal triple play. He's told a story that's completely of its time, yet often resonates with ours, and in its tragic dimension feels as timeless as a Greek myth…Jensen re-creates the world of circus life so vividly a reader's almost tempted to check the ground for elephant droppings… Like a gifted ringmaster, Jensen knows what every performer, major or minor, in this show can do, and seems to bring each one on at just the right time. While Leitzel, Codona and their circle may have almost passed from public memory, Jensen brings them back to the center ring in his book.”
—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"For anyone who knows that stardust can be a tarnished and magic is an illusion, Queen of the Air absolutely soars."
"[S]hocking and heartbreaking... Artfully choreographed, this act is sure to draw big audiences."
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“The true story of Leitzel, a circus aerialist who was the Evelyn Nesbitt of her time, is mesmerizing—part fable, part history and part dream. Meticulously researched, QUEEN OF THE AIR reads like a fine novel.”
—Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of The Deep End of the Ocean and What We Saw Last Night
“Daring the devil with consummate grace is what many of the circus arts are all about, aerially or in the ground game. These two nonpareil performers—flyers both—ultimately crashed, but not before putting on a glistering show.”
—Edward Hoagland, author of Children are Diamonds