Book Club: The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

First Published in 1989
Rating: 3 ¼ Stars

“I should cease looking back so much, that I should adopt a more positive outlook and try to make the best of what remains of my day. 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.” (p. 244)

As of late I have been diligent in digging from each book the true meaning behind the books’ title. Often, such is the case with this book, the name of the book is mentioned within an important passage. This method of “name dropping” quickly points the reader to the theme the author most-likely attempts to impress on you; such is the case in this, The Remains of the Day.
Mr. Stevens is a butler at the once esteemed ‘Darlington Hall.’ His current employer, the American, Mr. Farraday is going abroad for an extended time and all but demands Mr. Stevens take his Ford for a retreat amongst the countryside. This adventure quickly takes a backseat to the story that unfolds in Mr. Stevens’ memories. Tangled among his “retreat” is his wish to visit the Hall’s former Head Housekeeper, Miss Kenton whom has recently sent him a troubling letter.
The stories that unfold over the course of the solo motoring trip across the countryside lend to a story that is both formal in its presentation and depressing in its tales. It is not hard to grasp the reason this book was chosen as the 1989 Man Booker Prize as Kazuo Ishiguro’s writing is beautifully captivating and eloquently charming. A post-war novel that strays from the “status quo,” The Remains of the Day drifts beyond any novel we’ve become accustomed to in recent day WWII historical fictions.


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