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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  • 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 November 9, 2003

    Sadly disappointing

    I was required to read this book for an English class. I tried for almost 2 weeks to 'get into' this book. I could not find the interest to do so. The author's style of writing is artistic, however the storyline drags. I found the story to be sad, slow and boring. Thinking that maybe I had too many distractions while reading the book I watched the movie. The only thing better about the movie than the book is that it took 2 hours to watch the movie instead of 2 weeks to read the book. I warn other readers who care for more adventurous and upbeat books to skip this particular book.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2000

    Not worth the hype

    Sarcasm is overrated. And while I found the insight into the 'Butler's Mind' interesting from time to time, the message was entirely too banal. The ending and the entire story was known during the first few pages, which is not entirely problematic. Yet it becomes problematic when you know the plot and do not wish to read any further. I haven't seen the movie, but I might recommend it to those who are not required to read this book for a class.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted May 30, 2011

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    Posted September 9, 2010

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    Posted September 5, 2011

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    Posted October 22, 2010

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    Posted July 4, 2011

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