Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Remains of the Day

"It is sometimes said that butlers only truly exist in England.
Other countries, whatever title is actually used, have only manservants."


I've been meaning to read The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro ever since I saw the movie version of it starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. And since one of my bookish goals this year is to read books from off my TBR list, I decided it was time I finally checked it out of the library...and checked it off my list.

The book begins with Mr. Stevens setting off on a motoring trip to visit his old friend, Miss Kenton. He hopes to induce her to resume her role as housekeeper at Darlington Hall for his new employer, an American gentleman named Mr. Farraday. While on this trip, Mr. Stevens thinks back on his life and his many years of service as the butler at Darlington Hall. He also reflects on his former employer, his past interactions with Miss Kenton, and on what it means for a butler to serve with 'dignity'. It's a quiet, thoughtful, and sometimes sad novel, but for me it lacked the immediacy of story and place that the movie has. In fact, I found the pacing a bit slow at times. So, while the book is definitely good, I think the movie is better. The novel does have some beautiful writing, however. Just check out this quote:
"Perhaps, then, there is something to his advice 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. After all, what can we ever gain in forever looking back and blaming ourselves if our lives have not turned out quite as we might have wished? ... Surely it is enough that the likes of you and I at least try to make our small contribution count for something true and worthy."
Happy Reading!

Backlist Reader Challenge:  1 book read; 9 to go.

18 comments:

  1. The movie is so beautifully filmed!

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    1. It is! And I love Emma Thompson. She creates such memorable characters when she acts.

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  2. I love that quote! Thanks for sharing it! I often find classics to be better in movie form. The books get carried away with details like descriptions and other such nonsense.

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    1. That happens in this one, especially when the main character starts reminiscing about the best butlers and the dignity they showed in their jobs. Those parts were a bit of a yawn.

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  3. I've had this one on my TBR for quite some time. I think 2017 is the year to finally read it. So glad you posted about it. I need to watch the film version.

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    1. This book sat on my TBR list forever! :) I'm glad I've read the book. And I hope you get a chance to see the movie sometime, because it's really good. Even better than the book.

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  4. Sounds like I need to catch the film :)

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    1. That would be my recommendation. ;)

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  5. I *think* I've read the book and seen the movie. Sadly, I can't really remember either. May be time for a re-read and a re-watch or maybe just a re-watch. Ha ha.

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    1. Just go for the movie. I think once with this book might be enough. I mean, I thought it was good, but I didn't love it, and doubt I'll ever reread it. :)

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  6. I still haven't read this book though I've read several rave reviews of it. I've to catch up with the movie, too. ;)

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    1. Add it to your list! And if your list is as long as mine, you might get to it in the next decade. ;D

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  7. When I read this book, I just had to discuss it with someone. I had so many thoughts about characters and their actions and their motivations, I was just bursting.

    I agree -- the translation to film worked really well for this book. Pretty impressive.

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    1. Ishiguro certainly created some very memorable characters in this one. I think that's why it translates so well to film.
      Hey, I've been trying to comment on your blog, but my comments never go through. But I love the advent calendar quotes you posted today! :)

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  8. The writing transcend the story, in my opinion.

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    1. Yeah, I can see that. I did appreciate the way Ishiguro writes.

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  9. I'm glad to know more about the book. The film is one that I love, but then I love most everything that Emma Thompson is in!

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    1. Me, too! She's so great. I think that's why I liked the movie better than the book. :)

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