Jen C.'s Reviews > The Remains of the Day

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
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Feb 10, 08

Read in February, 2008

I loved Never Let Me Go, which is what led me to pick up Remains of the Day. I found ROTD to be as powerful a read as NLMG, and actually thought ROTD was a superior example of Ishiguro's storytelling ability. He has clearly mastered subtlety, and it is put to use excellently in this tale of a butler who has devoted both his external and internal life to his profession, at the expense, perhaps, of everything else.

Ishiguro's description of Stevens (the butler and narrator of the novel) is an exacting character study. Stevens painstakingly shares ALL of his thoughts on what makes a good English servant, while withholding any discussion of his hopes, emotions and doubts. If we trust Stevens' narration, we believe our narrator to be a hard-hearted workaholic. It is Ishiguro's insertion of small details that leads us to understand that Stevens is not unfeeling, but, rather, a highly unreliable narrator. Stevens does, of course, feel great pain when awful things happen to him. But just as he cannot put his emotions into words as devastating events occur, he cannot write of them while telling us his story.

Certainly the emotional heart of the novel lies in the final chapter. But it is a tribute to Ishiguro's abilities as an author that so many people actually make it there. I hadn't seen the movie, so had no idea where the book was headed. But I found myself wanting to pick up this book to find out where Stevens' story was going next.
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