The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

Stevens, a butler reminisces about his past glories serving under a dignified lord. Now, he works for an American man, Mr. Farraday, who got him along with the grand house. With a diminished staff, the butler struggles to maintain the house, so he sets out on a road trip to meet a former coworker, Ms. Kenton.

From the description above you can tell this isn’t an action thriller. This book moves along slowly with the butler letting us listen in to his thoughts and remembrances as he embarks on his quest to get another good worker for the house, but is it more than that? There are hints that he had feelings for Ms. Kenton but didn’t or wouldn’t act upon them for some twisted notions of propriety or ‘dignity’.

It is a situation we have all found ourselves in, missed opportunities, regret for words left unsaid. It leads the reader to think of their own missteps in life. Though, I like to think that every action I have made up to this point, even the things I haven’t done, have led me to the life I have today. Am I disappointed with my life today? No, but it’s a human notion to wonder about paths not taken. It’s the what ifs that bedevil our mind at times. This is why I’m firmly of the belief it is better to try everything and everything, so I will only have regrets about actions taken, not those not taken. It led to some exciting times in my 20s which I don’t regret one bit. Now, nearing the end of my 30s, I am far more cautious, an ailment that afflicts people as they age.

Perhaps, then, there is something to his advise that I should cease looking back so much, that I should adopt a more positive outlook and try to make the best of what remains of my day.

Kazuo Ishiguro is quite an incredible author. He has such range in his work. Of the three books I’ve read by him, they are all almost wholly different - The Buried Giant, Klara and the Sun, Never Let Me Go, and The Remains of the Day. Usually authors have their own specific genre and style, but Ishiguro finds a way to completely surprise me when I open every one of his books.

‘I mean, all this we’ve been talking about. Treaties and boundaries and reparations and occupations. But Mother Nature just carries on her own sweet way. Funny to think of it like that, don’t you think? ‘Yes, indeed it is, sir.’ ‘I wonder if it wouldn’t have been better if the Almighty had creates us all as - well - as sort of plants. You know, firmly embedded in the soil. Then none of this rot about wars and boundaries would have come up in the first place.’

Well said!

Rating: ★★★★★

Book #24 in my 2022 Reading Challenge

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