Thursday, 16 October 2014

Review: The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

In 1956, Stevens, a long-serving butler at Darlington Hall, decides to take a motoring trip through the West Country. The six-day excursion becomes a journey into the past of Stevens and England, a past that takes in fascism, two world wars and an unrealised love between the butler and his housekeeper. Ishiguro’s dazzling novel is a sad and humorous love story, a meditation on the condition of modern man, and an elegy for England at a time of acute change.

Paperback, 320 pages
Published August 26th 2014 by Vintage Canada (first published 1988) 
Genre: Literary Fiction

Kristine's Thoughts:

I received a copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review.

I had to sit and ponder for a while before attempting to write my thoughts on this book. The emotions I felt left me kind of confused as to whether I liked the book or not. In the end, I decided that the fact that I was feeling emotions in respect to this book meant that I did in fact enjoy it.

This story is about Mr. Stevens, a proper English butler, who embarks on a road trip in the later years of his career. Told through the first person, he reminisces about his glory years as a butler while heading to visit an old employee in the hopes of her returning to service.

The story is more about what isn't written than what is. As the reader we are able to see and understand what Mr. Stevens does not and it was this aspect that made me sad. In his quest to be exceptional at his job and serve with "dignity" he missed out on the little joys that were right under his nose. As he reflects on his past through different stories of events that happened at Darlington Hall it is apparent that his awareness grows somewhat throughout the pages. Hindsight is a glorious thing.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the inner workings of a great English home of the past. The story is subtle and sometimes dry but at the same time there are great moments to be found. I don't want to say much more for I fear I will give things away but I was left feeling very sad for Mr. Stevens at the end. I think it was in the final chapters and with his meeting with Miss Kenton that made me feel this way. It is not that I was disappointed in the ending because I wasn't, it was in Mr. Stevens reflections and final awareness that made me feel that way.

Over all it was a solid, well written book that I thoroughly enjoyed.

About the Author
Kazuo Ishiguro (カズオ・イシグロ or 石黒 一雄) is a British novelist of Japanese origin. His family moved to England in 1960. Ishiguro obtained his Bachelor's degree from University of Kent in 1978 and his Master's from the University of East Anglia's creative writing course in 1980. He became a British citizen in 1982. He now lives in London.
His first novel, A Pale View of Hills won the 1982 Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize. His second novel, An Artist of the Floating World won the 1986 Whitbread Prize. Ishiguro received the 1989 Man Booker prize for his third novel The Remains of the Day. His fouth novel, The Unconsoled won the 1995 Cheltenham Prize.
His novels: An Artist of the Floating World (1986), When We Were Orphans (2000), Never Let Me Go(2005) were all shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.


  1. I'm not much of historical fiction fan but I'm glad you enjoyed it! :) Awesome review... looking forward to more by you :)
    Book Maniac Reviews

    1. I really like historical fiction. Maybe it is because the stories are always more tragic. :)