The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book was highly recommended by a lot of people who’s recommendations I trust. It was more to do with how impressive they thought the book was and how well the story was told. So, a shot at it I had to give.
It truly is a very well written book. The story however, is not really impressive. The book describes a holiday a butler takes to the countryside. Nothing charming about it, right? Well, Ishiguro pulls out all stops in his literary arsenal to charm you, and he succeeds. Simplistic as the story might be, the writing is far from being simple. Written in the first-person, it reads like a memoir of a butler. Ishiguro manages to wring out every bit of charm the butler Stevens can exude, even though he is a no-nonsense, professional, dignified and ‘proper’ English butler who prides himself for possessing these very qualities. It is a lot of fun to read about the idiosyncrasies of a butler and how the littlest of change bothers him. It is lovely to see the amount of pride he takes in his work and the lengths he will go to do it well. And it is charming to see the loyalty he displays towards all his masters and above all, his profession.
Beneath the stiff upper lip of Stevens, there are shades of hopeful love. Ishiguro does a marvelous job of conveying how hopeful the hope of lost love is, while at the same time how it seems to be – unimportant. There could a be a lot of subtle clues and life lessons here, which you can deduce yourself.
The book does drag along at times and you feel like skipping a few pages of Stevens describing a bush or a lake or a field. And you wouldn’t miss much if you do skip these pages. As I mentioned earlier, this book is not about the story. It is about how a story should be told. And I love nothing more than a story told well.