Remains of the Day

Ishiguro, Kazuo. The Remains of the Day. Read by Simon Prebble. Tantor Audio, 2012.

Stevens is a dignified butler who has been given some well deserved time off from his American employer, Mr. Farraday. Mr. Farraday has also given Stevens the use of his vehicle (including fuel), urging Stevens to take a road trip. But, Remains of the Day isn’t really about the vacation of Stevens, but rather the memory lane Stevens end up traveling down. On his driving tour Stevens thinks back over his years as a butler first with Lord Darlington and then with Mr. Farraday after Farraday purchases Darlington Hall and its contents, including the servants (“the whole experience” as he says). Heavy on Stevens’s mind is his he spent working with housekeeper Miss Kenton and his strained relationship with his now deceased father. All three were employed together with Lord Darlington. I have to admit, as an emotional person, the passing of Stevens’s father and how Stevens reacts was somewhat disturbing. If you read the book, pay attention to when Stevens tells a guest the doctor has been called. The guest thinks Stevens has called the doctor for his ailing feet (for he had just asked Stevens for bandages) and Stevens lets him think as much even though his father has just died, the real reason for the call.
Remains of the Day is more flashbacks than present day story. Stevens takes you on a journey to discover what it means to have dignity. He reveals a world where being proper is more important than having sentiment. He explores the meaning of loyalty not only to an employer, but to oneself.

Reason read: This is a companion read to A Gesture Life by Chang-rae Lee (which does not take place in Sri Lanka. See BookLust Twist for further details) but August is the bets time to visit Sri Lanka, or so I am told.

Author fact: This is Ishiguro’s third novel.

Narrator trivia: this is the second audio book I have listened to narrated by Simon Prebble. The first was Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke.

Book trivia: Remains of the Day was made into a movie in 1993 and starred Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. It received eight Academy Award nominations. Not too shabby. This is definitely one I want to put on my list to see.

BookLust Twist: Mentioned more than one in Book Lust and then again in More Book Lust. In Book Lust in the chapter called “Companion Reads” (p 65) – which is why I am reading Gesture Life by Chang-rae Lee at the same time. Also, in the chapter called “100 Good Reads, Decade By Decade (1980s)” (p 179). Remains of the Day is also from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Sri Lanka: Exotic and Troubled” (p 212). Interestingly enough, Remains of the Day has nothing to do with Sri Lanka and is only mentioned in this chapter to describe the style of another book.

As an aside, I plan to go through all Book Lusts (Book Lust, More Book Lust and Book Lust To Go) to see how many books have nothing to do with the chapter they are mentioned in. I am curious to see how many books that eliminates – not that I won’t read them…

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