The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro is a novel about a butler named Stevens, living and working in post-war Britain. The novel revolves around Stevens receiving a letter from Miss Kenton, an old colleague he has not seen for many years. He decides, after prompting from his current employer, to take a holiday in the form of a road trip to visit Miss Kenton. Along the way Stevens reminisces about the time when he worked alongside Miss Kenton in Darlington Manner, their relationship and the political ideas and failed actions of their old employer Lord Darlington.
It is the summer of 1956. Stevens, an ageing butler, has embarked on a rare holiday – a six-day motoring trip through the West Country. But his travels are disturbed by the memories of a lifetime in service to the late Lord Darlington… The Remains of the Day is the nostalgic story of lost causes and a lost love.
This novel was like a slow train of thought, Stevens told the story of past people, events and mused upon the meaning of what makes a great butler, the meaning of dignity, the social constraints that surround his station in life, love, relationships, loyalty and politics.

This wasn’t a bad novel and when I first started reading it I was enjoying it… then nothing happened.. and I read some more and still nothing really happened. Stevens continued to brag about what a great butler he was, how he always put duty and social standing before love or family and he mused for a long time on the meaning of dignity and how that is something that he has because that is what defines a great butler. This desire to be a great butler however, affects his personal life in many ways and at the expense of his basic human emotions until this desire controls his life in every way.

I haven’t really ever spent any time thinking about what makes a great butler before so at least it gave me something new to think about. I just found Stevens a dull and ultimately stupid character. The fact that being good his job was most important to him is one thing, but allowing it to consume you until there is nothing left is just silly. He annoyed me.

If you like other Kazuo Ishiguro novels or novels about English butlers, you may like this book.

Rating 2.5/5


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