Context | After reading “Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro, a book that became one of my favourites, I knew I have to read more books by the same author. So I randomly picked up “The Remains of the Day” from a lovely bookstore in Cambridge … and it did not disappoint!
Short disclaimer: I read this book approximately 6 months ago and I postponed writing the review for reasons not related to the book itself. So this is rather a “throwback” review, not a “fresh from the oven” review.
In a nutshell | “The Remains of the Day” tells the story of Stevens, a humble and extremely dedicated butler. Following the encouragements of his employer, Stevens accepts to borrow his car and takes on a trip to Cornwall. This is a one-of-a kind experience for Stevens, a simple man who did not travel much before.
Overall impression | I enjoyed a lot reading “The Remains of the Day”! Proof is the fact that I insisted to write its review even after so much time passed since I read it. While reading the book I went along Stevens to discover my own learnings – for example, how a man who did not travel sees the world and how the world of butlers and housemaids functioned at that time. I will detail on 2 topics: the flashbacks and the butlers’ lives as seen by Stevens.
Flashbacks | The story is told from Steven’s perspective. The 5 days journey is an intensely retrospective experience, during which he reminds of various events of his life. The action itself is spread over 5 days, but the train of thought is about his whole life. From this point of view, the story reminded me of “Mrs Dalloway” by Virginia Woolf.
Butlers’ lives | The whole book is a like a “beginners’ guide” for being a butler and it highlights the important role butlers had as main organizers of the house. As Stevens recounts events from his life, he also shares learnings and asks philosophical questions regarding how a butler should behave, dignity, and humbleness. Being preoccupied about how excel in his profession, how to be a great butler, Stevens reads the magazine “A Quarterly for the Gentleman’s Gentleman” 🙂
Wrap-up | I recommend reading “The Remains of the Day”, it is a journey into the 1950s British world through the lens of a dedicated butler. It is a story about loyalty and politics, memories and perspectives. Ishiguro’s writing style will keep you engaged until the final page, when you will start missing Mr. Stevens!
Discussion | What books by Ishiguro did you read? What would you recommend reading, after “Never Let Me Go” and “The Remains of the Day”?
‘Till next time … happy reading!