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The Remains of the Day | [Kazuo Ishiguro]

The Remains of the Day

The Remains of the Day is a profoundly compelling portrait of the perfect English butler and of his fading, insular world in postwar England. 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.
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Publisher's Summary

Audie Award Nominee, Literary Fiction, 2013

The Remains of the Day is a profoundly compelling portrait of the perfect English butler and of his fading, insular world in postwar England. 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.

©1989 Kazuo Ishiguro (P)2012 Tantor

What the Critics Say

"A tour de force - both a compelling psychological study and a portrait of a vanished social order." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (263 )
5 star
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4.2 (227 )
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Story
4.6 (233 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Dan Harlow Fort Collins 07-07-13
    Dan Harlow Fort Collins 07-07-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Duty, Honor, England"
    Any additional comments?

    Well of course I'm going to give this 5 stars.

    Interesting that a novel written in 1988 by a man who wasn't born in England could write one of what I would consider one of the great novels of English literature. A lot of novels I'm sure have attempted to carry on the tradition of this sort of 'novel of manners and society', but this is probably the last, great one we'll ever see. Fitting then that it would be about the ending of things.

    For myself, a great novel (or any work of art) is one which gets you thinking about yourself. I tended to think a lot about my own missed opportunities, my age, what lies ahead, and most importantly the feeling of the people around me. I wondered how what I might assume someone I know is thinking or feeling could very well be wrong - that I'm oblivious to a great many things because I can't see past my own nose.

    Yet Mr. Stevens never seemed worried about this because he always knew his duty. His duty carried him through all things and so he never once questioned if he might ever be wrong. He's even asked by Mr. Cardinal on the night of the great meeting if he believes what his Lordship is doing is 'right' and he only replies that it's not his place to know. Right and wrong only become a concern to him when dealing with the topic of a butler serving a worthy employer.

    Of course, putting aside lords and butlers, Mr. Ishiguro is obviously concerned with larger issues, chiefly the idea of allowing oneself to be led by another who may not be as moral as you would like - which is why Hitler is such a good backdrop since he took full advantage of people's allegiance to the German state. That unquestioning loyalty seems quite dangerous against the Nazi flag, yet here we see it with the good intentions of a naive English gentleman and his loyal butler. And the price both paid were costly, but at least Mr. Stevens got some good advice about always looking forward and so his fate is not as bleak as Darlington's.

    Oh well, I could go on and on, and that's what makes this such a wonderful novel. I'm glad I read it so soon after reading Fathers and Sons too - I feel as if I've read some of the greatest novels ever written and they are both stories I am very sad to have to put down.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lori United States 05-02-13
    Lori United States 05-02-13 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "slow and steady"

    This book is for the Downton Abbey fans, of which I am one. I have been listening to mysteries so this is a nice change of pace. I really enjoyed the way the story was told through the road trip of Stevens,the main character and the way he looked back on his life.
    Stevens is unapologetically himself till the bitter end, which ends up being a little heart breaking. He is bound by rules of convention. if only in his own mind. And although it irritated me, the way he stuck to these rules, it ultimately defines who he is and therefore it can be no other way.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A Worcester, MA, United States 06-09-13
    A Worcester, MA, United States 06-09-13 Member Since 2003

    Love to read. Mysteries, history, romance, biography, current events, science, classic fiction. No vampires. No zombies. No self-help. Find me on GoodReads and BookLikes.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wonderful story, lousy audio"

    I am really enjoying the book. Simon Prebble could read me the telephone book and I would give it five stars but the format 2 version that I am listening to is full of pops and hisses.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jane BRICK, NJ, United States 04-24-13
    Jane BRICK, NJ, United States 04-24-13 Member Since 2012
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    "This book makes you think"
    Where does The Remains of the Day rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    It ranks as one of the top books


    What did you like best about this story?

    Although the story started out a bit slow, the author goes deep into the thoughts and life of the main character. The book makes one think about their own life and reflect.


    What about Simon Prebble’s performance did you like?

    Excellent reader!


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Garret 08-12-12
    Garret 08-12-12 Member Since 2008
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    "Prebble is terrific."
    What made the experience of listening to The Remains of the Day the most enjoyable?

    Prebble's reading is spot on.


    What does Simon Prebble bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Prebble's nuanced performance of the main character.


    Any additional comments?

    This is a thoughtful classic. If you are looking for plot, suspence, action look elsewhere.

    13 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Adam Shields Marietta, GA, USA 04-26-14
    Adam Shields Marietta, GA, USA 04-26-14 Member Since 2003

    Book blogger at Bookwi.se

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Butler reflects back on his years of service"

    Remains of the Day ended up in my reading list after being nominated for a 2013 Audie Award. I watched the movie years ago and knew the had won a Booker Award in 1989 when it came out. So after Audible had it on sale I started listening to it.

    It is an excellent audiobook. Simon Prebble was a very good choice as narrator.

    Mr Stevens has been at Darlington Hall for 35 years. Lord Darlington, his long time employer, passed away 3 years ago and the great house was purchased by an American business man. While the new owner is away, Mr Stevens decides to take a trip to see the former housekeeper.

    His travels lead to long sections of reminiscence. The entire book is first person narration. Stevens alternates between occasionally realizing what is going on to being unable to really see what is going on around him. He maintains his ‘dignity’ even to the listener.

    Much of the book is about Stevens trying to indirectly see whether the work of his life has had value. Stevens asserts that he has been great because he has served a great man. (Although many others believe that Lord Darlington was actually a fool that was played by Hitler to keep Britain out of the war for as long as possible.)

    So I am struck by how different this book would be if Lord Darrington was a great man instead of someone that was out of his depth. Stevens believed that service was more important than his own happiness. And I think many readers that find this book tragic would commend him if he had served Winston Churchill or another Lord that ended up being truly great. So I wonder at the implicit idea that underlies the entire book.

    On the other hand this is a great book to illustrate cognitive dissonance (the idea that we come to believe something different from reality in order to make ourselves feel better.) The best book I have read on that is Mistakes Were Made, but Not By Me.

    I really did enjoy the book, it was performed excellently. And it really did challenge me to think about what we serve (or who we serve) and how thing outside our power can forever affect the way we perceive ourselves. In the end I think I come to a different conclusion then the book intended. But it is still well worth reading.

    (originally published on my blog, Bookwi.se)

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David United States 03-20-14
    David United States 03-20-14 Member Since 2010
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    "Excellent"

    This is the first Ishiguro or Prebble book I've listened to and I was impressed by both. This is a beautifully written, poignant character study. It's got a really well-developed first person perspective and, though it's steeped in a specific era (and rich with detail at that), it has a timeless message. Prebble is a joy to listen to and does a great job shading character voices. I'm eager to check out Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go now and will definitely look for more from Prebble too.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ronda Batesville, IN, United States 10-10-13
    Ronda Batesville, IN, United States 10-10-13
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    "Never saw the movie; but the book was excellant!"
    Any additional comments?

    Ok, I admit it. I only ordered it cause it was cheap. But what a simple story, but very well written and read! Dont be afraid of the older books written in older times. I was so pleasantly surprised!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J Riverton, WV, United States 03-27-13
    J Riverton, WV, United States 03-27-13 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "OK"

    I purchased the book because I liked the movie & I wanted to know if there was more to the story. There is but not as much or in the way that I had hoped. The story was OK and the narrator was good but it was a little dissappointing and jumped around a lot which at times made it hard to follow.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Julie Leto Tampa, Florida USA 08-03-14
    Julie Leto Tampa, Florida USA 08-03-14 Member Since 2014

    julie@julieleto.com

    ratings
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    "An excellent audio book performance"
    What made the experience of listening to The Remains of the Day the most enjoyable?

    The narrator did a fabulous job of giving Mr. Stephens and all the other characters unique voices. He also had a way of making sure the humor of the novel, which is subtle with subtext, came across exactly as the author undoubtedly intended it to. I thoroughly enjoyed his reading.


    What other book might you compare The Remains of the Day to and why?

    I don't think I could compare this book with any other. It's quite unique.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    I can't say I have a favorite scene. The book is complex and tightly interwoven. But I loved Mr. Stephens and felt for him, even as he tried to keep his emotions bottled up.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It made me laugh and this was surprising.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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