Tuesday, October 8, 2013
The Remains of the Day
The Remains of the Day is about a man who has spent his life serving as a butler to a great gentleman. Life at Darlington Hall is all about Lord Darlington and his wants, needs and desires. Stevens strives to become one of the 'great' butlers. These men are known all over England and are held in awe by all the servantclass of the country. Stevens is a very good butler but at the cost of a life of his own.
After WW2 much change comes to England. Lord Darlington has died and an American speculator, Mr. Farraday, purchases Darlington Hall. The new owner has no clue how things are"done" in his new country. He tells Stevens that a portion of the house will be closed off and the staff will be cut accordingly. While Mr Farraday is off to America for several weeks, he suggests that Stevens take one his automobiles and take a trip through the English countryside. Stevens has hardly left Darlington Hall in all his years of service there so he decides to take Mr Farraday up on his offer.
As Stevens travels through the country staying at guest houses and inns, he begins to mull over his life and wonders if it has been a worthy one. Stevens also plans to see Mrs Benn(the former Miss Kenton) who was housekeeper at Darlington Hall for many years before leaving service. This meeting is a bittersweet one as feelings that have been suppressed for many years rise to the surface. I think both of these wonderful people have questions about what might have been if they had been more honest with themselves.
I really enjoyed this book. I think all the Downton Abbey mania has made novels about English Country houses popular again. I was surprised to find that the book was written by Kazuo Ishiguro. Ishiguro was born in 1954 and moved to Great Britain in 1960. Educated at the University of Kentat Canterbury, he is a celebrated author having his works translated into 13 languages. I would be interested in reading more works by this talented writer.
Now I need to try to find the movie in order to see if it lives up to the novel!