I liked The Remains of the Day the best so far out of all of the books that I’ve read from Kazuo Ishiguro. It oozes the stoic, ‘stiff upper lip’ British style that harkens back to the bygone pre-World War II era when Great Britain was the pre-eminent world power. Like a Van Goh painting, the narrative in The Remains of the Day focuses on the rather mundane subject matter of the life of Mr. James Stevens, a butler in charge of all servants at an old English mansion, called Darlington Hall. Yet despite Mr. Steven’s servile and unglamorous role on the surface, the story highlights how a butler, through his blind dedication to his work and impeccable attention to the minutest of details, unwittingly has impacted the geopolitics of the day – ostensibly the backdoor diplomacy between Britain, Germany, France and the USA to forestall the start of World War II precipitated by the rise of Nazi Germany. Mr Stevens, is revealed throughout the course of the narrative to be a simple man of unremarkable cognitive faculties, who nevertheless embodies what is essential to being a great servant – unquestioning loyalty to his former employer cum diplomat, Lord Darlington. Woven into the thread of the story is also Mr. Stevens close and at times tempestuous professional and private relationship with the former housekeeper at Darlington Hall, Ms. Kenton. Ishiguro masterfully draws the reader into the narrative through Mr. Stevens’ many fond recollections from his past service, in particular many run-ins with the highly capable albeit fiery Ms. Kenton. What slightly diminished my enthusiasm for The Remains of the Day was it’s slow start. I didn’t get hooked into the story until after 50-60 pages. Moreover, I initially found the very prim and proper, formal style of English (which in hindsight suits the novel well), a bit over-the-top and tiresome in the beginning. In the end, although I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Remains of the Day, I am unsure if it is a book that will stay with me a for a long time and make me want to read it again. However, I highly recommend this book to anyone without reservation.
Have you read The Remains of the Day? or any of Kazuo Ishiguro’s other works such as Klara and the Sun, The Buried Giant? What are your thougts after reading his work? What do you find most enjoyable about his writing? Thanks as always for stopping by! Please feel free to share your thoughts or reactions in a comment below. Also, if you would like to receive more updates about my writing please consider joining my newsletter mailing list by subscribing below.