What’s it about?
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.
This was a recent book club read and quite a surprise pick for the member that chose it – very out of their comfort zone!
Having not read Ishiguro before and not having seen the movie I really was going into this book as a blank canvas and I have to say I quite enjoyed the whole experience. One of my favourite pastimes is to while away a few hours at National Trust properties and when I visit these old houses and estates I’m always much more interested in what happens ‘below stairs’ and the servants’ stories. This was an excellent example of a visit in a book for me. A detailed description of what it was like to be ‘in service’ on a large country estate during the 1940s and 50s.
You certainly wouldn’t pick up this book if you were looking for a gripping page-turner but more if you were looking for a book that made you feel like a Sunday afternoon stroll in Spring. Some of the earlier parts I felt were quite slow and somewhat hard-going but once I got past these I was quite happy.
I felt that Stevens character came across as very cold, particularly surrounding his father, but I also sensed that this is what was expected of his position, very of its time but just so sad! And of course, his relationship with Miss Kenton, I thought she was trying so hard to show him she was interested in more than a professional relationship but was constantly rebuffed, so much so I just wanted to shake him! A story full of so many missed chances!
I did watch the movie adaptation starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson after reading the book, and am pleased to report it’s a very close match – I’d pictured the two of them all the way through.
Small print for info
Source: Purchased second-hand
No of pages: 245
Publisher: Faber & Faber