Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro is a story that delves into the life of Stevens, an English butler whose dedication to his profession and his employer, Lord Darlington, defines his existence.

Set against the backdrop of a changing Britain in the 20th century, the novel unfolds through Stevens’ first-person account as he embarks on a motoring trip in 1956. During this journey, he reflects on his past service at Darlington Hall and contemplates the choices he made, particularly during the tumultuous 1920s and 1930s.

The book explores themes such as dignity, loyalty, and the passage of time. Stevens’ unwavering commitment to his role as a butler and his adherence to a strict code of professionalism are central to his identity.

However, this same commitment leads him to overlook Lord Darlington’s Nazi sympathies and to suppress his feelings for Miss Kenton, the housekeeper with whom he shares a complex relationship marked by unspoken emotions and missed opportunities.

As Stevens reminisces about his life, the reader is invited to consider the cost of his unquestioning loyalty and the societal class structures that shaped his existence. The novel also touches upon the broader historical context, including the political landscape of pre-war Europe and the shifting dynamics of the British aristocracy.

Ishiguro’s storytelling is subtle, revealing the inner turmoil of a man who has lived a life constrained by duty and the expectations of others. The narrative is a poignant meditation on what it means to look back on one’s life with a mix of regret and acceptance.

What I Liked

I picked this book up after absolutely loving Ishiguro’s book, Buried Giant. I liked the setting of the book – post-war, post-colonial England is interesting. The writing is lyrical and lovely.

What I Did Not Like

Wow, this book was plodding and boring. The writing was right on – I could feel the ticking of the clock in a decaying English country mansion…for better and for worse. I also feel like the book is not quite as timeless as the themes and critics say. I feels a bit of its time – or maybe it’s just that it did not resonate with me.

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