Chrissy's Reviews > The Remains of the Day

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
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's review
Aug 22, 12

bookshelves: modern-classics, general-fiction
Read from August 20 to 22, 2012

Ahhhh, there it is: that same spark of genius I saw in Ishiguro's 'Never Let Me Go', but now borne out to fruition instead of smothered in melodrama. Remains of the Day is a spectacularly intelligent, subtle, impressive, and quietly philosophical character study of a classical English butler who finally, near the tail end of his career, realizes the full measure of the sacrifices he had made to become (in his mind) a servant of great dignity. Ishiguro's genius is in using the rambling, recollective monologue of Mr. Stevens to hold a mirror to the sacrifices made by the great turn-of-the-century households throughout the decline of that society and the traditions it upheld, transitioning them into the newer, messier, modern world of international war. The novel explores issues of loyalty, personal agency, time, memory, and modernity in a voice at once humorous and sad, soothing and unsettling. Mr. Stevens is a strong character that seems to materialize out of the pages, and the reader gets the pleasure of discovering him as he discovers himself.

It's a quick read, so I can't recommend it enough. Instead of saying anymore about it, I'll just suggest you pick it up and give it a go. Doubly so if you're a fan of PBS's Downton Abbey; I'd be very surprised to find out that Julian Fellowes did not model Mr. Carson in some ways after Ishiguro's Mr. Stevens-- and a perceptive fan may notice a familiar name no doubt borrowed from one of the characters Mr. Stevens meets along the way ;)

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