Paperback, 320 pages
Published August 26th 2014 by Vintage Canada
(first published 1988)
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.