Customer Reviews for

The Remains of the Day

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

A true tour de force

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. Highly recommended. It's difficult to believe how much Kazuo Ishiguro packed into this short (by today's standards), highly praised novel -- a lifetime of work and relationships, the realization of inescapable regre...
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. Highly recommended. It's difficult to believe how much Kazuo Ishiguro packed into this short (by today's standards), highly praised novel -- a lifetime of work and relationships, the realization of inescapable regret, and the hope it is not too late to join the rest of humanity. Stevens is a butler for an English house that is no longer great, nor is it owned by the family for which it is named. His postwar employer is, instead, an American named Farraday; as a stranger will point out to him later, 'An American? Well, they're the only ones can afford it now.' Farraday 'affords' Darlington Hall by shutting much of the house down and using a reduced staff, which Stevens can understand, as the staff that would be available would not be up to his own high standards. When he receives a sad, lonely letter from Darlington's former housekeeper, Miss Kenton (now Mrs. Benn), and later is told by Farraday that he can borrow his employer's car for a vacation on the road, he weighs the opportunity and decides to take it for 'professional reasons' -- to see if he can lure back the highly qualified Miss Kenton to her former position. During the brief journey, he spends much of his time contemplating what 'dignity' in his profession means -- and whether he lived up to it. After a plethora of recollections about the late Lord Darlington during the prewar years and after his meeting with Miss Kenton, Stevens comes to two great understandings: he did not serve a great man as he thought he had, and, in doing so, he had missed a chance for love and fulfillment. His devotion to Lord Darlington has betrayed him, personally and professionally. 'I can't even say I made my own mistakes,' he laments. 'Really -- one has to say -- what dignity is there in that?' This revelation does not come quickly or easily to either Stevens or the reader. Each anecdote that Stevens recalls to illustrate a point he wishes to make to himself -- the definition of dignity, how he upheld dignity by serving his employer while his own father lay dying -- subtly reveals how much he has shut himself down emotionally in order to serve. With each story, it becomes clearer that Lord Darlingon is an easily manipulated man, out of his league in world politics but insistent on playing the role of peacemaker -- even when it is no longer appropriate or wise. When his friendship with a woman leads him to firing two Jewish maids, it foreshadows his attempts to influence the British government into appeasing Hitler and the Nazis at any cost. He goes so far as to say that the U.K. should perhaps follow Germany's lead. 'Germany and Italy have set their houses in order by acting . . . See what strong leadership can do if it's allowed to act. None of this universal suffrage nonsense.' Stevens unwittingly proves Lord Darlington's point for him -- he trusts Lord Darlington's judgment as blindly as any German trusted Hitler's, believing that 'people like him' are too ignorant to make the decisions that must be made and following the great man contentedly -- and thus making a bad decision. When it comes to Miss Kenton, here too his perception is kept in check by his need for professionalism and dignity. His repeated emphasis on their 'professional' relationship and his desire to reconnect with her as a 'professional' only highlight the extent to which he will go to suppress his real feelings -- and the very real possibilities that existed. In life and love, Stevens realises he has been avoiding both. In the end, however, there is hope. After sending Miss Kenton home, back to her husband, Stevens turns to 'bantering'; that is, engaging with people without resorting to pre-programmed professional phrases --in short, truly interacting with his fellow humans. 'A

posted by Anonymous on November 18, 2001

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Most Helpful Critical Review

8 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

for those who don't mind slower pace

The book is about Stevens a butler in Lord Darlington's house. When Mr. Darlington dies, the house is sold to an American gentleman who spends most of his time in America. He suggests to Stevens that he should take a few days off. Stevens decides to travel around Englan...
The book is about Stevens a butler in Lord Darlington's house. When Mr. Darlington dies, the house is sold to an American gentleman who spends most of his time in America. He suggests to Stevens that he should take a few days off. Stevens decides to travel around England for 6 days. During this journey he spends most of his time to remember the good old days.
As I started reading this book I thought it might be a boring one, instead it turned out to be an emotional and heartbreaking journey for me as well. You will not find a lot of action in this book. I would say it's a sad story of what didn't happened. What really makes this book a great read is how well detailed Steven's personality, emotions and thoughts are described. Every sentence is simply perfect. Definitely must read for those who don't mind a slower pace.

posted by Lii on August 21, 2010

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  • Posted August 21, 2010

    for those who don't mind slower pace

    The book is about Stevens a butler in Lord Darlington's house. When Mr. Darlington dies, the house is sold to an American gentleman who spends most of his time in America. He suggests to Stevens that he should take a few days off. Stevens decides to travel around England for 6 days. During this journey he spends most of his time to remember the good old days.
    As I started reading this book I thought it might be a boring one, instead it turned out to be an emotional and heartbreaking journey for me as well. You will not find a lot of action in this book. I would say it's a sad story of what didn't happened. What really makes this book a great read is how well detailed Steven's personality, emotions and thoughts are described. Every sentence is simply perfect. Definitely must read for those who don't mind a slower pace.

    8 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2001

    A true tour de force

    The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. Highly recommended. It's difficult to believe how much Kazuo Ishiguro packed into this short (by today's standards), highly praised novel -- a lifetime of work and relationships, the realization of inescapable regret, and the hope it is not too late to join the rest of humanity. Stevens is a butler for an English house that is no longer great, nor is it owned by the family for which it is named. His postwar employer is, instead, an American named Farraday; as a stranger will point out to him later, 'An American? Well, they're the only ones can afford it now.' Farraday 'affords' Darlington Hall by shutting much of the house down and using a reduced staff, which Stevens can understand, as the staff that would be available would not be up to his own high standards. When he receives a sad, lonely letter from Darlington's former housekeeper, Miss Kenton (now Mrs. Benn), and later is told by Farraday that he can borrow his employer's car for a vacation on the road, he weighs the opportunity and decides to take it for 'professional reasons' -- to see if he can lure back the highly qualified Miss Kenton to her former position. During the brief journey, he spends much of his time contemplating what 'dignity' in his profession means -- and whether he lived up to it. After a plethora of recollections about the late Lord Darlington during the prewar years and after his meeting with Miss Kenton, Stevens comes to two great understandings: he did not serve a great man as he thought he had, and, in doing so, he had missed a chance for love and fulfillment. His devotion to Lord Darlington has betrayed him, personally and professionally. 'I can't even say I made my own mistakes,' he laments. 'Really -- one has to say -- what dignity is there in that?' This revelation does not come quickly or easily to either Stevens or the reader. Each anecdote that Stevens recalls to illustrate a point he wishes to make to himself -- the definition of dignity, how he upheld dignity by serving his employer while his own father lay dying -- subtly reveals how much he has shut himself down emotionally in order to serve. With each story, it becomes clearer that Lord Darlingon is an easily manipulated man, out of his league in world politics but insistent on playing the role of peacemaker -- even when it is no longer appropriate or wise. When his friendship with a woman leads him to firing two Jewish maids, it foreshadows his attempts to influence the British government into appeasing Hitler and the Nazis at any cost. He goes so far as to say that the U.K. should perhaps follow Germany's lead. 'Germany and Italy have set their houses in order by acting . . . See what strong leadership can do if it's allowed to act. None of this universal suffrage nonsense.' Stevens unwittingly proves Lord Darlington's point for him -- he trusts Lord Darlington's judgment as blindly as any German trusted Hitler's, believing that 'people like him' are too ignorant to make the decisions that must be made and following the great man contentedly -- and thus making a bad decision. When it comes to Miss Kenton, here too his perception is kept in check by his need for professionalism and dignity. His repeated emphasis on their 'professional' relationship and his desire to reconnect with her as a 'professional' only highlight the extent to which he will go to suppress his real feelings -- and the very real possibilities that existed. In life and love, Stevens realises he has been avoiding both. In the end, however, there is hope. After sending Miss Kenton home, back to her husband, Stevens turns to 'bantering'; that is, engaging with people without resorting to pre-programmed professional phrases --in short, truly interacting with his fellow humans. 'A

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2012

    Recommended.... but not everyone would enjoy it.

    It is well written and most of it is the butler telling his story and events of his life as a butler in England.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 15, 2011

    Loved it!

    I'm so glad I read this book. I first saw the movie years ago and it's one of my favorites. I could see the movie characters in my mind while reading the book and that made the book make more sense and much more enjoyable. I'll be reading more of Mr Ishiguro's books for sure!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 16, 2010

    great read

    book highlights a person who is constantly looking back, but has no real idea of what he is looking at.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2015

    Scott's Super Groovy two week reading list.

    O.k., so I successfully never touched a law book during my 4,000(?) Day beat down. ;)probably need to fellate a PMBR now. :0

    ReadaloozopaloozaAnuary continues.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2013

    Angela shikany

    Too expensive.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 22, 2013

    Definitely an interesting book. It follows a man who has tried

    Definitely an interesting book. It follows a man who has tried to live a fulfilling life, one with dignity for the past thirty-some-odd years and still attempts to discern what that means for himself. In order to reassure himself, he looks back on his life he's had so far and attempts to make sense of what exactly his role was and if it actually made a difference. Quite a powerful book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2012

    Excellent read

    I am a fan of anything related to manor life, service, and the British aristocracy. This book has all of that, but is additionally a strong character study that takes the reader inside the narrator's introspections in his "remains of the day" that is his life. Moving, thought provoking, yet not depressing. A nice journey into the narrator and into Darlington Hall.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 17, 2012

    Slow going

    I did like the book, but it was slow going.

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  • Posted September 16, 2011

    Misunderstandings

    The book is a study of how,during that era, this butler missed opportunities,love,his lack of education,his very sad and brittle relationship with a father who molded him into the perfect butler/servant. He was raised to behave and to suppress his own desires. Whatever the goings on around "Mr Stevens&Miss Kenton" this is, in the end, a love story between two people who,for the times they inhabit,could not connect. E. M. Forster seems to have had some influence on Ishiguro in that Forster's motto was that we must " only connect". Apparently the times did not allow for it here.Definitely recommend along with E,M,Forsters works,as they seem to give continuity of the represented era.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2011

    Amazing

    Favourite book of all time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    impeccable

    This is the second time I am reading this wonderful novel. If you're searching for an impeccable, nuanced read and character study. This is the book for you. If you're looking for a fast action, indiana jones type book, then no, probably not the book for you. Ishiguro surprises with his study of responsibility and self-delusion. The Butler Stevens is hilarious and heart wrenching in his quest for dignity and sense of the perfect butler. Ishiguro's NEVER LET ME GO is also an amazing read, completely different and yet the same in the character's resignation...I understand the book is to be made into a movie starring Kiera Knightley.

    Its a great study in tone and reflection upon a vanished order. Stevens is impeccable.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2008

    A Disappointing Telling of No Progression...Spoiler Alert

    Ishiguro¿s writing is very eloquent and descriptive, but his plot development is lacking. The book does a great job of showing the reader Stevens¿ every thought and his obsessive-compulsive way of thinking. However, there is so little action that the book is hardly worth reading. <BR/>The entire novel is told through a re-telling of Stevens¿ experiences. This all happens while he is supposed to be escaping from his work¿which has consumed his entire life¿and experiencing the English countryside. But Ishiguro focuses so much on Stevens¿ obsession with his work that nothing interesting happens on his journey at all.<BR/>Stevens is impossible to relate to because normal people are so much more self-centered than he. A main theme in the book is ¿greatness.¿ Stevens measures greatness by how devoted one is to his work and how completely he can devote himself to his employer. His total devotion robs him of any personal development and leaves him socially crippled. This book is so disappointing due to the lack of any relationship development, and lack of any lessons learned. <BR/>Probably the most disappointing aspect of the novel was that the situations Stevens encountered gave perfect opportunity for personal development. Sadly, even though he was removed from his workplace, he still could not relax his professionalism and grow into his own person. His love interest was lost, he allowed his employer¿s needs to get in the way of his own moral views, and he learned nothing about himself on what seemed would be a symbolic journey of discovery across the country. <BR/>The novel does a great job of showing Stevens¿ miniscule observations and obscure obsession with his work. I would recommend this book to a reader who is interested in in-depth character descriptions and skewed ways of thinking. I would not recommend it to anyone looking for plot or a personal progression in a novel.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2008

    A Quiet Novel of Lost Opportunity

    As Stevens strives for a life of perfection and dignity in his chosen profession he loses the ability to relate and react to others in a natural way. In fact, he believes the acme of his performance as a 'great' butler occurred on the night his father died, noting to others that his father, also a butler, would have approved. It is only as he reflects upon the direction his life has taken while on a road trip that he begins to understand what he had given up. In lighter moments in the novel we see glimpses of Stevens grappling with such behaviors as bantering in much the same way a sociopath would grapple with affection. An excellent portrayal of a man and his milieu.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2007

    Brilliantly put together

    At first, I couldn't understand what was so great about it, but by the time I finished I had a completely new appreciation for the story. While it may appear to be somewhat drawn out in the beginning, Ishiguro allows the readers to understand the character's dedication and focus in his career so that we can fully appreciate his future experiences and realizations. There's so much to be felt in the things that Stevens (the main character) doesn't do or say and leaves us with a bittersweet ending. I originally had picked up this book having read Never Let Me Go, also a great novel on a completely different level and put together in a very different way. Thus while this novel is different from those I normally read, I still thoroughly enjoyed it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2006

    An Interesting Read

    Definately not similar to the stories of teen angst and meaningless relationships i've been reading. This book was a refreshing change. It may not be a book that a younger audience is accustomed to reading but it is definately worth a try. You have to be able to see past the text and understand the deeper meaning behind the narration. I was assigned this book for an english assignment and yes, it may have been hard to read (i fell asleep a few times), but after reading the ending it was definately worth it. Kazuo Ishiguro has won many awards for his work, why would he win these awards if his work is as bad as people have claimed in previous reviews?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2005

    Stevens...possibly the most boring and frustrating character ever created...?

    Whilst I can identify the themes and motives within Ishiguro's work, from the very beginning I found the character of Stevens most disagreeable. I had to force myself to turn the page, and resist hurling the book across the room, whether this be through boredom, or merely frustration at this tedious character, I have yet to decide. Having finished the novel I understood Ishiguro's aims, and perhaps he achieved them in the most effective way,however this book requires effort to read and the result is disappointing.Whilst it may be a perfect study novel, it lacks the essentials for an entertaining read.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2004

    An Exquisitely Heartbreaking, Moving Novel

    Any rating of less than 5 stars for this novel must be attributed to a deficiency of some sort in the reviewer, for not one such dieficiency exists within the novel itself. It is perfect. True, the ending leaves one completely and utterly devastated, but that is, in fact, the point. The control of tone is unwavering and the style is flawless. It's impossible not to fall in love with this book. Read it, again and again.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2004

    A big disappointment

    The book was very boring. I never got into the book. Stevens, the main character lacked emotion and didn't have feelings. All Stevens cared about was his work. The ending was very predictable. It is one of the worst books I have ever read. The only reason I read the book because it was required. The book was a waste of time.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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