K.D. Absolutely's Reviews > The Remains of the Day

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
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's review
Jun 28, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: 1001-core, 501, drama, british, war, booker
Read in October, 2009

Before I started reading this book, I thought that it would be boring as the writer is British and it was about a butler in an England county sometime in between 1940-1956. However, I need to have a break from reading THE RISE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE by Edward Gibbons. The names of the many emperors in their different eras are starting to confused me.

I was wrong. I started reading this book on a Friday morning while waiting for my daughter to join me in the car and I finished the whole 200+ pages in a little more than 24 hrs. I could not put it down. The narrative is compulsively moving and the English is clear and simple (unlike the narrative of another Booker winner, A.S.Byatt's POSSESSION which I read last month).

The character of Stevens, the butler, is nothing but respectable and endearing. This is a good book to emphasize the value of work and loyalty. Stevens values his work that much, so much that he did not even think of marrying (because butlers cannot have a family). I also like the way he idolizes his father who was also once a butler and died as a butler. That death scene was just harrowing. The butler-father, 79 y/o had a heart attack while pushing a cart full of wine and his butler-son could not attend to him because he had visitors to entertain.

The story is also about growing old. I like the phrase uttered by another aging butler towards the end of the book: "You've done your day's work. Now you can put your feet up and enjoy it. That's how I look at it. Ask anybody, they'll tell you. The evening's the best part of the day." How about that for people looking forward to their retirements? BTW, that where the title REMAINS OF THE DAY came from. It refers to what is left of the day - the evening.

The trip to the countryside shows the character of Stevens in detail. It is like the trip of THE LITTLE PRINCE (still by far my favorite novel) to the many planets.

More and more of the 501 MUST READ BOOKS are turning out great! I am grateful to Tata J for lending this reference to me. So far, I've read 46 of them already and I only got disappointed twice: THE SATANIC VERSES and THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA. However, someday I will read them again and hope to get a different perspective as I grow old and gray and try to enjoy them in my remains of the day.
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Comments (showing 1-13 of 13) (13 new)

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Christine I have just finished this book and I was going to start my review with the same comment! I guess don't judge a book by its first page. :)

K.D. Absolutely Yes, this is a great book.
After this, I read his "Never Let Me Go". Great too!
Next will be his "Artist of the Floating World" (maybe next month).
His one of the novelists whose works I am planning to complete before I die. Others are:
1) Haruki Murakami
2) John Steinbeck
3) Paolo Coelho
4) Milan Kundera
5) Virginia Woolf
6) Jane Austen
7) Ian McEwan
8) J. M. Coetzee
9) Charles Dickens - maybe
10) Leo Tolstoy - maybe

I've completed Bob Ong so far!

Christine Wow! Now I want to make my own list! So far I plan to complete Haruki Murakami, Virginia Woolf, Jeanette Winterson and Ian McEwan. Maybe I will add two or three classic writers. I also love poetry but its hard to read all poem collections of one poet.

Louise Broadbent You thought it would be boring as the writer is British?

Josephine  (reading in twilight) I have yet to meet someone who loves The Old Man and the Sea.

K.D. Absolutely Christine, good luck to us.

Louize, yes, before.

Josephine, haha. Got yah.

message 7: by Carolina (new)

Carolina Morales Please, in your list, take your time and do yourself a favour and skip Paulo Coelho. Beleive me, this is an easy joke among us Brazilians. His writing is so poor and his "biographic" novels so made up that hardly can be named Literature. Perhaps, the French translation to his books were so careful and skilled Paulo´s got a non-deserved good reputation because of that. If you want a true comtemporary Brazilian author, just try Machado de Assis or Graciliano Ramos. Cheers!

Josephine  (reading in twilight) Carrie... thank you!

K.D. Absolutely Carrie, thanks. Yes, I still have some Paolo Coelho's unread books and I do not touch them anymore. Yes, I love Machado de Assis. Read and enjoyed two books by him. I still have to try Graciliano Ramos. Appreciate your suggestions.

Kinga If you think that "This is a good book to emphasize the value of work and loyalty", then I think you might have entirely missed the point of this book. To keep it simple - it's pretty much the opposite of that.

message 11: by K.D. (new) - rated it 4 stars

K.D. Absolutely Kinga wrote: "If you think that "This is a good book to emphasize the value of work and loyalty", then I think you might have entirely missed the point of this book. To keep it simple - it's pretty much the oppo..."

Thanks, Kinga. I think you have a point there.

Laura I laughed about "The Old Man and the Sea." I think there are certain books that are meant to be read at certain times in one's life. For me, "The Old Man and the Sea" was 8th grade and being 14 and analyzing the heck out of the book with all of its Christ imagery. I'm fairly sure that if I read it now, I would chuck it across the room. "The Catcher in the Rye" is a bit like for me, too, except that it was 9th grade and being 15 and everything that comes along with that.

Since Virginia Woolf is on your list of must-reads, might I recommend "Between the Acts"? It left me with the same feeling as "Remains of the Day," but through a very seemingly different strategy.

Laura One more comment.... I agree with other commenters about Paulo Coelho - mostly. I loved him when I was 20 (again, see above about a certain time for certain books). Now I find him pretentious and a bit "out there." However, I do still believe that "The Alchemist" is a lovely book. I taught it two years in a row to high school seniors, and for many, it was the first book they had ever managed to finish. It was the right time in their lives for this particular book, and it generated some great conversations. Again, there's a certain time...

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