We were a little overdue this month on holding our book club, but met to discuss book number two yesterday. Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro is a poignant and thought provoking read, awarding lots of discussion.
It details the life of Stevens, a butler and his service to a Lord Darlington of Darlington Hall. Stevens embarks on a trip through the English countryside and reflects on his life and the events that have led him to where he is. In the choice of language, in the description of setting the reader soon understands he is struggling internally with the decisions he has made throughout his life.
At the very heart of the novel is his relationship with Ms Kenton, the housekeeper of Darlington Hall and we see throughout how he has missed opportunities to make connections with other people all his life. Instead he has quashed all emotion down and inhabits his role as a butler entirely, his core values and beliefs being to uphold and maintain a sense of dignity.
It is both fascinating and tragic how he clings to this belief in the beginning of the novel. Both the interactions with others and events over the course of the novel mean he is unable to maintain this belief. At the end he is left with a fragile sense of self and filled with regret and loss.
Yes, heavy stuff, but soooooo worth reading – you’ll regret it if you don’t!
(We also watched the film afterwards, starring Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins, which was very well done for the most part)
(Image from the 1993 film, Remains of the Day)