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The Remains of the Day [Mass Market Paperback]

4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (150 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Canada, Limited
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140144323
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140144321
  • Product Dimensions: 18 x 11.4 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (150 customer reviews)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
109 of 110 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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18 of 18 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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48 of 49 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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27 of 28 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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