A gentle, beautiful tale about the end of an era.
It’s hard to say why you should read ‘The Remains of The Day’, except that it’s excellent. Nothing really happens, if you think about it. The butler of a grand house (Stevens), who has just seen the property change hands, is allowed two weeks off by his employer who has also kindly loaned him a car.
And that’s pretty much it.
The rest of the story is from Stevens mind – he remembers the great scandal that led to the demise of his former noble lord, and the change in the world that meant that many of the servants that were in demand just a couple of decades ago found themselves out of a job. But he doesn’t just reflect about his predicament – which he realises will soon be dire as his new American lord is not much in the house, negating the need for his job.
He looks at opportunities lost. As a loyal butler, he had always put the reputation and comfort of his lord first – which meant him losing out on the last moments with his father, or the love of his life.
Perhaps subconsciously he knew what he yearned for, as this entire road trip is to see the now married Miss Kenton, whom he is convinced misses life at the manor where she was a housekeeper.
Although the story doesn’t have a lot of dialogue, and there is little to no controversy in its subject or its character, it’s impossible not to get immersed in the story completely. Ishiguro is so masterful of the language and the sentiment behind the words that he manages to encapsulate great meaning in simple words. It’s a work of art. It’s gentle, and civilised – much like a butler. Perfect for a sunny beach or a garden chair, I think I shall revisit this book this summer – be prepared for more Ishiguro in the months to come!
This review is part of my 1000 before 30 challenge, in which I attempt to achieve 1000 books read in my life by that birthday! If you have any burning recommendations, please do share them in the comments below.