An excellent read. One of my favourites. The book is mesmerizing.
Ishiguro’s command of prose is perfect.
The novel spans the professional life of an English Butler named Stevens over his 6 day trip to the countryside. Mr. Stevens is on his way to see the old housekeeper from Darlington Hall, where he is the butler. His memories of her and their interactions, as well as those of Lord Darlington, make up the majority of the book.
Our narrator, Mr Stevens, is the ultimate tragic hero. He is so repressed that he doesn’t know how to be honest with himself.
This novel is so heartbreakingly beautiful I get chills even just thinking about it. I loved it on so many levels: as a portrait of upper-class England between the wars, as a universal fragility of human life, as an examination of work, dignity, misplaced loyalty, understated emotions, as an examination of regret at the end of one’s life, and as a subtle tale of unrequited love.
It’s not what happens in this story that’s important, it’s what doesn’t happen. It’s not what is said, but what is not said.
This book is the pause that goes on so long that an action cannot be taken. When one stands there searching for the right thing to say or the right thing to do, the only thing one can do is to react to what someone else has done, and that reaction is muted and then aquiescent.
The characters are deep, their motives being familiar and their decisions universally understood.
All in all, it’s a cautionary tale – what if one day you wake up towards the end of your life and realize that you have wasted it – that all you believed to be good and true turned out to be a bit of a sham? Would you just plain deny it or would you just try to put yourself together and make the best of the remains of the day?