After the terrific Never let me go and the horrible The Unconsoled , I was very eager to see what reaction I would get from reading my third Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day. I have been wanting to read this book for years ( I’ve also had the film for years as well but never watched it as I like to read the book first.)
It is fantastic
Mr. Stevens is the butler of a mansion once owned by a Lord but now taken over by an American – ie new money. While his new owner is partake on a vacation he gives Stevens some time off, to which Stevens spends his vacation doing to things. 1 ) driving around in the country and 2) visiting an old friend/maid and trying to persuade her to come back and work with him.
Stevens is a very ‘old school’ person. Very reserved , exceedingly loyal, a bit snobbish and polite. Throughout the novel we are treated with memories of his time at Darlington house when Lord Darlington was his master.
Despite it’s brevity the book is a slow builder and the reader gets bits and pieces of Stevens past life. Thus we start out with the notion of dignity , then we see the introduction of Miss Kenton and slowly slowly we see how Stevens’ dignity his tested, from serious matters such as his master’s naive political worldview to his dealings with Miss Kenton. Sometimes Stevens great British reserve is what makes him make certain life changing decisions.
However it is the final meeting with Miss. Kenton in which Stevens discovers one secret which could have altered everything and it’s this section where the book just shines and takes a highly emotional turn.
Social class , politics, dignity and time – this is just a spattering of what Ishiguro focuses on in this wonderful little book. Not to mention the sumptuous writing. It was a joy reading this book from start to finish.