No, Dorothy, we’re not in Kansas any more…or in Vermont, for that matter. Edward Hopper — in ebook form, on my Kindle — went with us for a transatlantic crossing on the ocean liner Queen Mary 2, from Southampton, England, to the Cunard pier in Brooklyn, New York.
We were at sea for eight days, and while most of our time was out on the deck, walking briskly or lazing in steamer chairs (and oh yes…in various dining rooms, eating!), I did spend a bit of time in the ship’s library. The QM2 is decorated in the classy art deco style that characterized the fabulous ocean liners of the 1920s and ’30s, and the Library is a reader’s haven, with lots of comfy chairs and big windows overlooking the ocean, the prow of the ship, and the spare propeller blades that are mounted there. Made of burnished steel, they resemble abstract sculptures and are far and away the best “artwork” on the ship.
Of course I navigated first to the Fine Arts section, interested to see what the QM2 had about Edward Hopper. I found only the 2002 edition of Ivo Kranzfelder’s Hopper, published by Taschen in Germany, a nicely illustrated overview with some interesting commentary but — harumpft! — it makes no mention of Hopper’s time in Vermont. Of course I wanted to fill in this gap for future QM2 passenger-readers, so I wrote a note on one of my business cards and tucked it into the center of the book, adjacent to the page where Kranzfelder refers briefly to Hopper’s “rural landscapes.” My card carries the cover image for Edward Hopper in Vermont as well as my contact info. It will be interesting to see if anyone picks up my note, set afloat in a book on the QM2 — rather like a message in a bottle — now on its way to Halifax, Canada, before crossing the Atlantic again, sailing eastward back to Southampton.
The Library’s wooden bookcases have glass doors that can be closed and locked when seas are rough, to keep the books from flying off the shelves. During our trip the ocean was calm, and the gentle rocking was actually more conducive to snoozing than to reading! Nevertheless, I found a real page-turner in Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, a complete departure from art history and a return to my old love — history of science and medicine. This is a wonderful and important book that covers some of the most significant social and ethical issues of our time. It’s serious, but totally absorbing and utterly worthwhile — and I was glad to be able to read it in long stretches on the cruise, without the usual distractions.
Note that I did some frivolous reading too, a British book about fashion (helpful in putting together my “costumes” for dinners in the Britannia Restaurant!). Once I recover from all that relaxation, reading, and eating, I’ll post more about my upcoming Hopper activities. Meanwhile, enjoy these shots of my traveling companion, at sea and among friends.