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107 of 108 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the 20th Century's best novels
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...
Published on 30 Jan 2001

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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Got there in the end
I found this book a bit difficult to get into, a little wordy and the political side a little confusing. But the human aspects of the book I thought were very well done ... the relationship between the main character and Miss Kenton was so real. Some of the ideas about 'dignity' and 'loyalty' got me thinking about my own life and my own values and I...
Published on 4 Mar 2006


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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Slow, 24 Feb 2013
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As with all Ishiguros novels this is very well written but I found it slow and a bit dull. .
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, 8 Nov 2009
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This review is from: The Remains of the Day (Paperback)
I picked this book up because having read Never Let Me Go I felt the author's style would be a much better match for a period piece such as this, and I was correct. Ishiguro has a wonderful talent for writing people's memories, it feels so natural as his characters get slightly muddled over unimportant details but remember key phrases or expressions so vividly. The fluid writing style is very beautiful and immersive to read, although I was a little disappointed with the speed of the final chapter.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A pleasure to read. Excellent, 24 Aug 2009
This review is from: The Remains of the Day (Paperback)
Whereas I think the title of my review pretty much summarizes my opinions on the book, I just wanted to say what I think makes this book so special. Firstly, one of the most memorable first person narrators is embodied in the form of Stevens, an aging butler of Darlington Hall. Secondly, it is extremely beautifully written.And thirdly, the perfect length for an afternoon of pure literary bliss.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a subtle and compelling novel, 26 Dec 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Remains of the Day (Hardcover)
The Remains of the day is the reminsiences of Stevens a Butler at Darlington Hall. He goes on a journey to try to make ammends for not commiting to Miss Kenton, the woman he realises after a life time of service and wasted life. This was a stunning book becasue as you read it you slowly understand what Stevens does not admit to and how his master, Lord Darlington became a dupe for the Nazis in the years leadng upto World War Two. The book is in many ways very subdued in style as Ishurgo writes from teh point of view of Stevens - a cautious man who always thinks before speaking - but it is what is not said that is most important. There are many moments that are humerous in a gentle Jane Austen style of English comedy. Overall a book that is well worth reading and savouring and leave you appreciating it.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book about Japan, 2 Oct 2006
This review is from: The Remains of the Day (Paperback)
When I first read the book, I was amazed, like many other readers, that an author with a Japanese surname could write from the inside of an English worldview so well. Half way through the book, I began to decide that he hadn't, which only made the book better, from my point of view.

Stevens is a man who has sacrificed his life (one which was dedicated to making life into more of an art) for his lord. Said lord is someone who had close ties with the Nazis during the second world war. The disgrace that this brought leads to Stevens' home being occupied by Americans after the war. He finds the Americans to be surprisingly decent and helpful. By the end of the book he has to conclude that the problem with his life has been that he never questioned what decisions were made in his name, but simply followed blindly into disaster.

Butlers in England were surely far less common than shopkeepers, carpenters or farmers, yet are unquestioningly agreed to represent the best of the nation's character, one which should be viewed as a standard.

Replace Stevens with Suzuki. Make him someone who revers the samurai tradition (surely less common than the same trades in Japan). Someone who followed his leaders into the second world war in alliance with Germany only to emerge occupied by the Americans. Remains of the Day is a fascinating piece of writing just as it is, but think of it in this way and it points out that 'we' and 'they' are not so different. The book is a deeper one than it first appears and is more worth the reading of because of it.
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12 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest novels of the 20th century, 16 Mar 2006
This review is from: The Remains of the Day (Paperback)
The Remains of the Day (1989) is still Kazuo Ishiguro's most famous book, partly because it won the Booker Prize (in a very strong year: masterful works like Amis's London Fields and Winterson's Sexing the Cherry weren't even shortlisted), and partly because it's his most accessible novel. And it is indeed a masterpiece and probably still his best work.

It inspires such admiration for many reasons. Every line and every page is essential and in its right place, and can be seen to serve its purpose. There is so much in it that when you think back on it you wonder how on earth he fitted it all into 250 pages: the war, the notion of servitude, the love story, the ever-present tragedy, all of which is fully worked out. And it is constructed like a clockwork toy or crossword puzzle, with tiny clues everywhere. Take the first and last sentences of the novel:

"It seems increasingly likely that I really will undertake the expedition that has been preoccupying my imagination now for some days."

"I should hope, then, that by the time of my employer's return, I should be in a position to pleasantly surprise him."

On the surface they share the same formal, almost pompous form and language we have come to expect from Ishiguro's narrators. But looking again at the last line we see that Stevens, the butler in Darlington Hall, has made an unthinkable slip - a split infinitive - which is Ishiguro's signal to us that he is on the brink of, as one of his characters would never say, "losing it big time." The only other hint we get of this in the book is one stark sentence near the end, where all the layers of Stevens's protective carapace are skinned away at once to enable him to say:

"Indeed - why should I not admit it? - at that moment, my heart was breaking."

Such is the force of this simple admission in the midst of Stevens's obfuscation and self-protection that it detonates like a nuclear bomb. Mix in with this the major themes of thwarted love, an employer with Nazi sympathies during the second world war, and a frustrated life of service, and the result is one of the greatest but least showy novels of the late 20th century. An essential masterpiece.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A triumph. A joyless triumph., 28 April 2012
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OK then, The Remains Of The Day. Bring it.

After the near-constant slaughter, incest, kin-slaying, king-slaying, beheaded and bedding of Storm of Swords, 6 pages of discussion of changing generational attitudes to the supervision of silver polishing comes as a slight change of pace. But once I'd made the requisite adjustments to my expectations, I found a lot to admire -- though not much to adore -- about Remains (as precisely no-one refers to it).

As a study of repression, emotional and societal, the book is an absolute triumph. But, and this is a big but, do you really want to read a book where the two central characters are Mr Stevens, a completely dick, unable to relate to fellow human beings in even the most basic way, and Miss Kenton,a woman so tragically lonely that the most she hopes for in life is his brief attentions? Case in point: The day Kenton's aunt (basically her mother figure) dies, Stevens lambasts her about the arrangement of crockery to avoid any potential show of emotion on either part, which would, of course, be most unprofessional. What an utter bell end. Still, it's undoubtedly a "good" book. We can all relate to regret and the slow dawning of having wasted one's entire life can't help but stir some pretty strong feelings. Knowing how much Stevens has missed out on because of some misplaced sense of duty is actually quite distressing reading, despite the ever-unstated tone of the book.

One way I did manage to lighten the mood was by assuming "pantry" was Georgian slang for "anus." When Miss Kenton forced her way into Mr Stevens' pantry unannounced, I chuckled. When she insisted on putting flowers in his pantry because it dark and dank, and needed some added colour, I spat my tea across the room.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly written., 14 Dec 2012
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Totally absorbing. Recommended to my daughter and friends. Far superior to the film, which tho good and well acted, lacked the depth of main characters personality.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars good, 8 Dec 2012
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A Viewer (Macclesfield, UK) - See all my reviews
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good but i preferred others of his. if you're thinking of reading it you should though as it'll come up in conversation!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ishiguro's plough through nostalgia, 13 July 2012
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Ian Thumwood "ian17577" (Winchester) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Remains of the Day (Paperback)
Ishiguro's butler Stevens is wonderfully described within this book even if the repeated use of commas in the first chapter had me tempted to throw the book out of the window early on. However, I think this is a book that is worth sticking with solely because of the quality of the writing. I find Ishiguro to be a writer of quality who has the knack, like Ian McEwan, of appealing to a wider audience. In this effect, the butler looks back to his service with the Nazi-sympathisizer Lord Darlington and clues are gradually dropped throughout the book of the wider political picture.

As it's strength, this novel expertly captures the personality of Stevens, very much a cold fish with no understanding of emotion and describes the development of his relationship with the various characters. In some instances, it could be seen to be darkly comic but my suspicion is that Stevens has no sense of irony and that Ishiguro's character is played for real even in the chapter where he is compelled to carry out his functions whilst his father lies upstairs dying.

"The remains of the day" is pretty easy to read and is extremely well crafted. For all the beauty of the language, I didn't feel that the story was quite as compelling as the excellent "Never let me go" and this book's conclusion tends to wind it's way to the anticipated solution. Not a great deal actually happens in the book storywise and the interest stems from Stevens rather detatched and devoted attention to his employer irrespective of the unpleasant implications of Lord Darlington's intentions.
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Remains of the Day
Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (Hardcover - Sep 1989)
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