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The Remains of the Day

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Member Reviews

It's difficult to put my finger on what makes this Booker prize winner so readable and compelling. The plot isn't much more than a man driving for several days to have a brief conversation with a former colleague, while reflecting on his life and work as a butler.

I think it comes down to the incredible job that Ishiguro has done in creating Stevens' voice, through whom everything else is filtered. It's all his narration or recollection. Living in the small world of a stately home, he has relatively little ambition but sees it as a great and noble work which he does; world-changing even. He's very proper and unemotional, which means the small breakthroughs are hard hitting. Stevens briefly questions what it is he has spent his life on and whether he missed opportunities which could have brought him greater fulfilment, but all in all, it's very low key.

I do wonder how Ishiguro came to be writing about this subject, but for reasons I still can't entirely pinpoint, I'm extremely glad he did. It has a sublime quality that I can't articulate or explain. This definitely represents one of those occasions on which the awards bodies got it exactly right!
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Thank you for the opportunity to read this wonderful novel - it's one of those titles that's been ubiquitous on my literary radar for so long that I wrongly assumed I'd already read it. And I might have gone on thinking that were it not for this copy from NetGalley. What a rare treat I'd have missed out on!

It is nothing less than exquisite. Just so beautifully written. It's hilarious and meaningful and poignant and heartbreakingly sad and pushes all the buttons that quality literature really should push. I'm now quietly obsessed with this book. It was my first encounter with the author but it will definitely not be my last.

I'm in awe at how a thing done with such sublime subtlety can pack such an emotional punch - I was a wreck for days after finishing. 

I also love the fact the Stevens does a lot of telling but this novel is still an excellent example of the show, don't tell rule. It's just so clever.

I absolutely love this book.
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An interesting book. On the surface, it is the ramblings of an old butler to a large house. Delve deeper and through the eloquent language, you see a man unable to express emotion, even at the death of his father. Before the war, Lord Darlington is involved in foreign affairs. He seems to be both antisemitic, and pro fascist. His Butler, Stevens, sees everything but says nothing.
The language used is rich and eloquent, and the book is more of a series of recollections rather than a novel.
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This is not what I expected at all but I enjoyed it. I have never read a book like it and it definitely has expanded my horizons. Would recommend.
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A holiday is an unusual, if not unheard of, thing for Stevens, the butler at Darlington Hall, but his new American employer is back in the US for a few weeks, and Stevens is off on a trip to the West Country, to see the sights and visit a former colleague. Miss Kenton, now Mrs Benn, was formerly housekeeper at Darlington and Stevens hopes to be able to persuade her to return. His reasons are solid and practical, citing the unavailability of staff in the modern post-war world of the 50s, but hidden away he holds more personal, sentimental ones.
As he travels the quiet roads of 1950s England, Stevens reminiscences about the inter-war glory years, when Lord Darlington was heavily involved in European affairs, and the house filled with people of power and influence, ponders on what makes a 'great' butler and the meaning of dignity, and just occasionally lets his imperturbable butler's mask slip enough to let us glimpse the man behind - the emotions he's bottled away, the life and love he could have had if not for his belief that duty overrides all.

I first read The Remains of the Day sometime in the early 90s shortly after it won the Booker prize; I loved it then, and it was a pleasure to revisit it, though I think my feeling about Stevens have changed. Then I felt his life had been totally wasted, and that it was his own fault - his loyalty given to a man who never deserved it, the love of his life lost through his stubborn pride and 'dignity'. Now I'm inclined to judge Stevens less harshly. Born and bred into the profession of butler, he follows his father's footsteps, and I feel there's little else he could have done. He copies the example set for him - believing that a butler should be ever-present, constantly at his employers beck and call, putting their needs above his own, never breathing a word of his own personal troubles. His aim is to be a perfect cog in a machine - in another life I could imagine him as the perfect Soviet factory worker putting tractor production and state quotas above personal feelings. 

And like that factory worker, Stevens has put total faith in his employer. His sole aim in life was to be the best butler possible. He didn't consider himself informed enough to have an opinion on anything outside this, particularly on the wider poltical issues of the day, but unquestioningly left that to his 'betters', such as Lord Darlington. Such loyalty has turned out to be misplaced (in the light of later events Lord Darlington is labelled as a Nazi sympathiser), and Stevens now finds himself adrift, unsure of how he should have behaved, and uncertain of what life now holds for him.

The Remains of the Day is a quietly moving story of a life spent in serving others, often at the loss of personal happiness, but ultimately I feel it's one of hopefulness as we leave Stevens with his professional brave face on, looking forward to to the future.
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This had all the elements that resembles the authors work. It was minimalist, straight to the point and written exactly how the cool, eccentric kid at school would probably think. There's a lot to tell in the characters emotions and you can tell just how much research and the thought process that went into this book
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Kazuo Ishiguro never ceases to surprise me! His writing is superb as always. Who would have thought the musings of a butler could be so entertaining?
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I don’t know how I’ve never read the Remains of the Day before now - I even realised shortly before reading this review copy that I already owned the book yet had never opened it. In retrospect, this has been a mistake - Ishiguro’s novel deserves its classic status. This beautifully written book delivers devastating emotion in carefully structured avoidance strategies, unspooling the emotion hidden behind expressions of the practical and banal. The upper classes flirtation with Nazis is skilfully drawn out, and presented much more critically (between the lines) than in the film, which is fascinating.

Huge amounts to think about after reading.
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The Remains of the Day is a classic from the so-talented Nobel Prize-winner Kazuo Ishiguro. Who, having read it, could ever forget Stevens, the butler at Darlington Hall, whose reminisces  reminiscences of the 1920s and 1930s reveal so much of the major events in the outside world, as filtered by Darlington Hall?

This reissue has a new cover as part of a uniform series to fit in with his new book, Klara and the Sun.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Publishers for this copy

This is one of my favourite books ever and one of my favourite authors. Unique and outstanding i wont spoil it with an explanation buy it and dive in you’ll thank me for it once you start the book
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<i>"After all, what can we ever gain in forever looking back and blaming ourselves if our lives have not turned out quite as we might have wished"</i>

This is a memoir of sorts (it is fiction after all!) from the point of view of a long-standing Butler who is on his first road trip to see an old friend. It is a beautiful book as the quote I shared above shows with a character who develops throughout and I really enjoyed it. Mr Stevens clearly struggles with conveying his feelings both to himself and to his friends and colleagues in this novel, is that his purely his profession or maybe how he was raised? I loved how it developed and Kazuo Ishiguro wrote such a perfectly typical English butler which is impressive.

The only reason I didn't give this 5 stars was a personal thing - I found Mr Stevens prose extremely chatty and sometimes he wittered on a bit too much, and I found myself drifting off in parts. Other than that I would say it is almost perfect.

<b>Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for a digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review</b>
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Although I'd studied a few excerpts at university, I'd never read The Remains of the Day fully, and it was a pleasure to the delicate writing style and the poetic atmosphere that I had loved so much in Never Let Me Go and The Buried Giant. Kazuo Ishiguro is easily one of the best stylists of our times.
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I revisited this book ahead of the much anticipated publication of the nobel laureate's latest novel "Klara and The Sun"

The pre-war butler of a great Lord is encouraged by his new American master to take a motor trip and the book is set on his drive across to the West Country where at the end he plans to (and does meet) the old housekeeper who he initially is convinced wishes to return to the house. 

As he journeys he reminisces on his service; considers the meaning of a great butler which he concludes is: to serve with complete dignity – meaning laying all one’s own feelings and emotions aside; a great master – meaning someone close to the hub of affairs (not the social ladder) who strives to improve the world; and increasingly reflects on his relationship with the housekeeper who we and he increasingly realise – he only really when he meets her – liked him and had hoped for a relationship with him but was unable to get past his professional detachment and seeming indifference.

Beautiful and controlled writing which conveys emotions as much by what is unsaid as what is said. 

The central narrator butler figure (who narrates in the present tense but is almost always thinking of past scenes so that the present tense can jar when it returns) is a very convincing character bewildered by the changing world and so fixed on the dignity of his position that he only notices much too late both the irresponsibility of his appeasement-leading master but the frustrated affection of the housekeeper.

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A quiet but beautifully told story of repression, and the lives we lead versus the lives we might have led.

Which of us have never experienced the feeling of wishing we had been a little braver, or stepped outside of our comfort zone, on certain occasions? And which of us have never wondered at missed opportunities, or divergent paths we may have taken at specific points in life?

This story presents a central figure who embodies these ideas, in Mr Stevens, the butler at a stately home in England in the mid 20th-century. Stevens leads his life obsessing on notions of dignity and impropriety, and how others perceive him, rarely allowing his own desires to surface.

Ishiguro expertly paints Stevens, who feels like a real person and draws both the reader's sympathy and ire.

There is little by way of 'plot' here, but the book is very readable and is deftly built to a thought-provoking denouement.
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Having recently read - and enjoyed - "Never let me go", by the same author, I was looking forward to reading this book. There is no doubt that Ishiguro is an excellent writer, and beautifully evokes a sense of time and place.  However, I didn't feel the story arc was as strong as in NLMG - I was anticipating a huge twist at the end, which failed to materialise. Personally, I feel that a little less description and a little more dialogue would have given the story a better sense of pace. I'm pleased I've read it, but feel it suffered a bit in comparison with NLMG.
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This is a subtly written and moving story, of loyalty and repressed love.
Set post ww2, it begins with a butler, who has worked at an English stately home, for most of his life.  He follows all the proprieties in his life, but doesn’t see when to bend and his emotions are repressed because of it. The story follows him as he decides to visit an old colleague, the previous housekeeper.
Miss Kenton.  
This story is a gentle and subtle novel exploring the feelings and emotions of the characters, in an understated way. We gradually discover their true feeling, and are almost impatient with them for their denial of emotions, but the world was a different place then, and it’s difficult for us as readers to understand how duty and loyalty ruled people’s lives at that time.

This book is  beautifully written, and absorbing. Well worth a read.
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This book is set in 1956 around the life of Stevens who is the Butler of Darlington Hall. Stevens has been in service all of his working life, previously to Lord Darlington at Darlington Hall prior to the Second World War and latterly to Mr Farraday, the American and new owner of Darlington Hall. 

Stevens follows in the footsteps of his father for whom he has the utmost professional admiration. He is so conscious of his professional appearance - to appear dignified, restrained and in control, that he is unable to behave any differently. 

When Stevens is given the opportunity to use his employer’s motor vehicle for a short break, he decides to travel to the West Country.  His journey is potentially life-changing . He will be visiting ex-housekeeper, Miss Kenton and he has high hopes of asking her to return with him. 

On his journey, Stevens narrates his past service to Lord Darlington, the international politics that he became involved in the periphery of, for example, the conference held to discuss The Treaty of Versailles. 

This is a beautiful story, it’s a slow-burner, there are no peaks and troughs. It is a story about the life of a gentleman who, because he cannot express emotion, has missed his opportunity to find love. If it is not already a classic, I believe it will become one. 

I rate this book 4 stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟
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Kazuo Ishiguro's novels always take you by surprise. This one is more of a concept: do you remain the same or change when you are living in a new environment? This is definitely a slow burner but it will become a classic without doubt.
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I was more than happy to reread this story and I found as fascinating and enthralling as the first time.
It aged well and I think it can be considered a classic.
It’s not a story for anyone who wants a fast paced and action packed story: you have to sit and let the words and the storytelling take you to another time and place.
Excellent storytelling and character development, a fascinating and vivid historical background.
It’s strongly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this arc, all opinions are mine
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From the Nobel Prize-winning author of Never Let Me Go
Winner of the Booker Prize
A contemporary classic, The Remains of the Day is Kazuo Ishiguro's beautiful and haunting evocation of life between the wars in a Great English House.
In the summer of 1956, Stevens, the ageing butler of Darlington Hall, embarks on a leisurely holiday that will take him deep into the English countryside and into his past.


I have read Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go which did not wow me but was, as the young people say, “meh” but I know Ishiguro is well respected (a Nobel prize winner no less!) and in interviews on the page and screen I really like him. So I hoped The Remains of the Day would be better; it has some splendid accolades. I was disappointed.

I should have loved this book as formality and tiny details are very much my thing but good grief, man, get to the point! The protagonist, Stevens, is so unbelievably dull. Now, I know in part, that’s the point; he is obsessed with propriety and dignity to such a degree that he misses the life right under his nose…good and bad; but being written in the first person this book, likewise, is unbelievably dull.  Perhaps it is proof of Ishiguro’s skill as a writer that he can make me want to cross the road when I see Stevens coming but alas it also made me want to close the book…a shot in the foot, I think. However, as I was reading it for review I did finish it.

Perhaps you are a big fan of Ishiguro’s writing; perhaps you love The Remains of the Day but it’s just not for me.

Thank you to NetGalley and Faber & Faber for the complimentary copy of the book, which I have voluntarily reviewed.
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