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The Remains of the Day [Paperback]

Kazuo Ishiguro
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (128 customer reviews)

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The Remains of the Day The Remains of the Day 4.5 out of 5 stars (128)
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Book Description

3 Mar 2005


In the summer of 1956, Stevens, the ageing butler of Darlington Hall, embarks on a leisurely holiday that will take him deep into the countryside and into his past . . .

A contemporary classic, The Remains of the Day is Kazuo Ishiguro's beautiful and haunting evocation of life between the wars in a Great English House, of lost causes and lost love.

Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Faber and Faber; New edition edition (3 Mar 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571225381
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571225385
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (128 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 88,425 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

The novel's narrator, Stevens, is a perfect English butler who tries to give his narrow existence form and meaning through the self-effacing, almost mystical practice of his profession. In a career that spans the second world war, Stevens is oblivious of the real life that goes on around him--oblivious, for instance, of the fact that his aristocrat employer is a Nazi sympathizer. Still, there are even larger matters at stake in this heartbreaking, beautifully crafted novel-- namely, Stevens' own ability to allow some bit of life-affirming love into his tightly repressed existence. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


'A triumph... This wholly convincing protrait of a human life unweaving before your eyes is inventive and absorbing, by turns funny, absurd and ultimately very moving.' --Sunday Times

'A dream of a book: a beguiling comedy of manners that evolves almost magically into a profound and heart-rending study of personality, class and culture.' --New York Times Book Review

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
105 of 106 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the 20th Century's best novels 30 Jan 2001
By A Customer
This book has the ability not only to make you feel deeply moved by its main protagonists but to re-evaluate your own life, relationships and values. It explores the break down in communications between individuals of "opposite" sex, social class and nationality and the pressure to conform to moral, social and political standards at the expense of natural feelings. The hero Stevens, a butler, represses his feelings so much that he cannot or will not admit his attraction to housekeeper Miss Kenton. His obsession with the "role" of butler and archaic notion of "Dignity" creates a barrier between them which neither is able to break down. The frustration for the reader is that the truth is there so plain to see, narrated by Stevens himself, and there are many opportunities for them to connect; when Steven's father dies; when Miss Kenton receives a proposal of marriage, but the hard shell of reserve the butler builds around himself never cracks. Tradition and reputation remain more important than his happiness. Meanwhile this small drama is played out against the backdrop of the British government appeasement of Hitler's burgeoning German Nazi party just before WWII, where, paralleling the difficulties in communication within the domestic staff, His Lordship tries to bring European leaders together for the best, but misguided, reasons. There are so many powerful episodes and touching scenes - when Stevens' demeanour causes him to be mistaken for His Lordship, when he is asked to his embarassment to explain the facts of life to His Lordship's betrothed nephew and when he is quizzed by one of his employer's politician guests as a representative sample of the working classes. Read more ›
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46 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars beautiful 12 Nov 2001
By A Customer
This must be the most desperately sad and beautiful book that I have ever read. I was absolutly hooked from the first page right until the end, and even found myself crying once i had finished.
It is a story of hopelessness, a journey of self discovery and a love story, told simply. At the end, you are both exasperated with the narrator as well as desperately sorry for him.
an exquiste read
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
The Remains of the Day is brilliant. Kazuo Ishiguro's ability to portray characters realistically is unsurpassed, and the fading world of the protagonists is described reverently and perfectly.
An aging English butler called Stevens sets off on a quiet motoring tour of Devon in the late 1950s. As he drives leisurely through the English countryside, he muses on times past and the exact nature of 'greatness', a quality which he has strived to attain all his life.
Stevens is perhaps one of the most distinctive characters that I have encountered during my reading life. He is the perfectionist to end all perfectionists, but his demands for everything to be correct are as stringent on himself as they are when he is supervising the rest of the dwindling staff at Darlington Hall. He is devoted to his work and does not let anything-or anyone-shake off his persona of efficiency and manners. This means that he hides his real emotions for most of the book, and is reluctant even to reveal them to the reader. His new master, an American, is fond of making jokey remarks to Stevens which would be unheard of when he was serving Lord Darlington and seem to shock him. His faltering attempts to make light bantering conversation add a touch of gentle humour to what is essentially a rather sad story.
Overall, The Remains Of The Day is a superbly crafted book, with all the plot's undertones of politics, romance, patriotism, etiquette and 'greatness' perfectly managed. One of the best passages has to be where Stevens explains why the English landscape is one of the world's greatest, and if you've ever visited Devon, even in this age of motorways and housing estates, you will see what he means. This book is really one of the best I've ever read, and the 1989 Booker Prize is well deserved. A true, beautiful classic.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like nothing you will have read before! 25 Mar 2006
By A Customer
Like all of Ishiguro's novels the book requires some stamina and thought, but what evolves from this is perhaps one of the most rewarding literary experiences you are likely to find. Indeed, the book should be classified as fiction, though would not be out of place in the 'personal development' section of your local bookstore, for if ever there was a book that so painfully portrays how we should not live our lives, The Remains of the Day is it. It is stiff-upper-lip all the way as Stevens the butler narrates his way through years of service to a fascist Lord Darlington. His aim is to achieve 'dignity' in his role to the point where service is the be all and end all of his life, putting work before everything; his own health, the death of his father, and most frustratingly, the mutual attraction with Miss Kenton. Everything in the book is so brutally real and tragic, nobody gets killed, there is no violence or bad language, just the memoirs of a lonely man who somehow has to come to terms with the mistakes he has made in his life. Is there anything more tragic than a life half-lived? It is a sublime book, make time for it and it will stay with you for a very long time.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars divine
wonderful writer. Wonderful book. Loved it from beginning to end. i would read anaything and everything by this author. Try Never let me go.
Published 1 month ago by ms n j selmes
5.0 out of 5 stars A pleasure to read
I read this book for the second time twenty years later the first one. As the first one I liked it very much, but the considerations are different. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Omote and Ura in British Society
This book is a fascinating exploration of the code of appropriate behaviour (or Tatamae in Japanese) which dominated (and still subsists) in English culture. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Yellow Dog
2.0 out of 5 stars Dull
Wow, what tedious read. Difficult to imagine how this book became so popular. Thin plot, two dimensional, stereotypical characters, wooden characters. Avoid. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Grant F Ferguson
5.0 out of 5 stars beautifully nuanced prose that effortlessly draws you in
Deferential butler represses emotional life in pursuit of dignity and thereby fails at love, politics and banter leaving only the evening of life for dubious possibility of... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Nigel Marshall
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read
Loved this novel. Gentle depiction, eye for detail, an classic which will be timeless - have no hesitation in recommending this
Published 3 months ago by KarenM
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable contemporary classic
Story follows traditional aging English butler in 1950s, through six days of his motoring trip in England. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Nikola
5.0 out of 5 stars masterpiece
The only slight criticism I have of this almost perfect novel is I just couldn't help 'seeing' Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson, as the two main 'protagonists' of this story play... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Anthony del Porto
5.0 out of 5 stars The Remains of the Day
I have no idea why it has taken me so long to read this novel, despite having read most of this authors work and loved it, and yet this, deservedly, is regarded as his classic. Read more
Published 6 months ago by S Riaz
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written book
Beautiful use of the English language. Having seen the film several times, as I read this book, I heard the wonderful voice of Anthony Hopkins narrating throughout. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Over the Hils
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