Title: The Remains of the Day
Author: Kazuo Ishiguro
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from the public library
Number of pages: 245
First line: It seems increasingly likely that I really will undertake the expedition that has been preoccupying my imagination now for some days.
At the end of his three decades of service at Darlington Hall, Stevens embarks on a country drive, during which he looks back over his career to reassure himself that he has served humanity by serving “a great gentleman.” But lurking in his memory are doubts about the true nature of Lord Darlington’s “greatness” and graver doubts about his own faith in the man he served.
I am so grateful to this challenge this year, and this book is one of the reasons. So many times I put off reading books that everyone says I should read, simply for lack of time, or worry that the hype is unfounded. And, of course, there have been times when I was disappointed (As I Lay Dying, The Grapes of Wrath), but the majority of time I am left wondering why on earth I waited so long.
The Remains of the Day is a quiet, deceptively simple book. On the surface, it is the story of an English butler taking a road trip, reflecting on his career. But as the book goes on, you see Stevens face the fact that many of his memories are tainted, and that his staunch devotion to his employer may have been unwarranted.
I loved so much about this book, and yet am finding it difficult to put it into words. Perhaps I’ve used my quota for 2013? I will say that the writing is amazing, and there are many quiet moments of humor. This isn’t a “laugh-out-loud” book, but a “smile to myself” book. I am curious to re-watch the film – it’s been years – to see how it compares.
If you read along with me – or have ever read this book – please leave your thoughts in the comments. If you’ve reviewed it, please leave your link in the Mr. Linky so I can read it.