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
"A tour de force - both a compelling psychological study and a portrait of a vanished social order." (Publishers Weekly)
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.
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.
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.
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.
Prebble's reading is spot on.
Prebble's nuanced performance of the main character.
This is a thoughtful classic. If you are looking for plot, suspence, action look elsewhere.
It ranks as one of the top books
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.
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.
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!
I liked the narration - Simon Prebble does a great job, as usual. Unfortunately, I'd forgotten that this book is by the same author who wrote Never Let Me go, another book I did not care for.
As I said, it reminded me of Never Let Me Go - both are descriptive, winding stories that ultimately left me wondering why I wasted X amount of hours listening to them. I prefer to read/listen to a story that leaves me smiling or wanting to read more, not something that leaves me depressed.
He did a good job of getting the different characters voices right, creating a picture in my mind of each individual.
Its worth it for the background provided about another time and way of life, but not for anything else.
Ishiguro is a master of detail. His research artfully brought to life in this book truly immerses you into the post WWII England. It is a requiem to the end of an era of british aristocracy and the "gentlemen who serve gentlemen".
The first person narration demonstrates the depth of delusion and the disconnect between the protagonist and the reality. It can frustrate you at times.
At the end, it is a beautifully written book, but its point is as old-fashioned as its hero.
I can't believe the novelist who wrote this also wrote Never Let Me Go. I kept listening and waiting to ascertain if I was missing something ... But it continued to be mind-numbingly boring.
The performance was fine but it certainly couldn't make up for the disappointing novel.
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