Customer Review

125 of 127 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 review is from: The Remains of the Day (Paperback)
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. Each of these confirm that he is a dying breed of dinosaur from a feudal age, an unquestioning and naive bond slave in a world turned sour and cynical and how ineffectual as a human being. As storm clouds gather over Europe, political lies and intrigue mirror the confusion in Stevens' household and relationships and both he and his employer ultimately and tragically suffer from an inability to recognise the truth. Behind the facade of dignified gentility, and a veneer of unwavering formality, the inner turmoil within the political arena, the house, the staff and Steven's own conscience make this an intense and absorbing read on many levels. He is an intensely maddening and yet touchingly likeable character. Absolutely fascinating and totally realistic. A top ten novel of the 20th century.
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Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-9 of 9 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 2 Oct 2011 17:49:33 BDT
Last edited by the author on 2 Oct 2011 17:50:40 BDT
AVID READER says:
i am considering buying this book and I find the reviews all very helpful in making my final decision.
This review has made me want to buy or at least get a sample of the book, but my main purpose of writing this comment on the above review is to say how filled I am with admiration of the skill your ordinary readers have of evaluating this book so cleverly.This review tells everything one would want to know about the book before reading it oneself, without giving anything away which would spoil the whole book. All I can say is WELL DONE, very professional and enjoyable review and I now intend to get a sample and almost certainly buy it thereafter,

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Apr 2012 18:40:33 BDT
Mercgirl says:
I completely agree. Fabulous review.

Posted on 12 Jul 2013 16:16:33 BDT
Bridgey says:
Thanks for giving away parts of the plot. I love this novel, and have read it several times but if I were reading it for the first time I would like to find out the following plot lines for myself:

1) His father dies
2) His housekeeper get's a marriage proposal and it appears Stevens doesn't talk her out of it.

A well written review but I think you have spoiled quite a bit of the story for other readers.

Posted on 18 Nov 2013 12:18:19 GMT
Dan Smith says:
Great review.

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Jan 2015 20:04:13 GMT
Huck Flynn says:
Hi Bridgey
i wrote this review years ago, when you could be anonymous. I hope i've learned since then not to include spoilers - that's a habit that annoys me too! I'm not sure those two slips are terribly bad but apologies if they spoiled the brilliant book for you . The novel remains fabulous several reads later - even when i know the entire story. IMO, sadly, the author has never come anywhere near this standard since.

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jan 2015 09:19:41 GMT
Bridgey says:
I know the feeling. I studied it for A level and enjoyed it but have read others since and really not enjoyed them.

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jan 2015 12:36:32 GMT
Dan Smith says:
I feel sorry for Timothy Mo - he got dropped by his publisher and had to self publish. His first book was excellent.

In reply to an earlier post on 28 Jan 2015 15:06:47 GMT
Huck Flynn says:
i'm not sure where Timothy Mo comes in as he;s not the author in this case. However he is excellent and Redundancy of Courage is a masterpiece IMO and his Insular Possession highly recommended.

In reply to an earlier post on 28 Jan 2015 17:10:53 GMT
Dan Smith says:
I was just saying - he was that sort of generation in the early nineties.
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