Man’s booker prize winner in year 1989, The Remains of the Day is third novel by Japanese author Kazuo Ishiguro.
Stevens, the narrator, has spent his whole life as a faithful, dutiful butler at Darlington’s Hall and never actually ventured out to live his life or reflect upon what he wants & likes. When his new employer asks him to go for a road trip in the countryside, the journey brings lot of nostalgia and introspection of his life! Most of the novel is flashback of Steven’s father’s life and his life as a butler and their duties. He reminisces about his life in Darlington Hall and if it could have been any different?? When he meets the housekeeper and his old colleague Miss Kenton after years, he realizes a missed opportunity of a life together with her. His life as a butler was accomplishing in a professional way but unfulfilling on the fronts of friendship and love. A mistake lot of people make unknowingly, aye!
The prose is subtle, beautiful and treats the subject matter exactly the way you would expect! And, it has its own kind of sense of humour which is witty and kind of cool! It’s a moving tale of loyalty, integrity, lost love and irreversible mistakes! Stevens is a character everyone can relate to! He loses himself completely in something (his work) and misses out on quite a lot (love! etc). Steven’s inability to figure out whether he made some mistakes himself will definitely make you think about your life in the same way! And maybe we should all go on road trips to think about our lives, lol!!
Needless to say, it’s a recommended read!
“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? The hard reality is, surely, that for the likes of you and I, there is little choice other than to leave our fate, ultimately, in the hands of those great gentlemen at the hub of this world who employ our services. What is the point in worrying oneself too much about what one could or could not have done to control the course one’s life took? 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. And if some of us are prepared to sacrifice much in life in order to pursue such aspirations, surely that is in itself, whatever the outcome, cause for pride and contentment.”
“But what is the sense in forever speculating what might have happened had such and such a moment turned out differently? One could presumably drive oneself to distraction in this way. In any case, while it is all very well to talk of ‘turning points’, one can surely only recognize such moments in retrospect. Naturally, when one looks back to such instances today, they may indeed take the appearance of being crucial, precious moments in one’s life; but of course, at the time, this was not the impression one had. Rather, it was as though one had available a never-ending number of days, months, years in which to sort out the vagaries of one’s relationship with Miss Kenton; an infinite number of further opportunities in which to remedy the effect of this or that misunderstanding. There was surely nothing to indicate at the time that such evidently small incidents would render whole dreams forever irredeemable.”
And this is the closing paragraph:
“Lord Darlington wasn’t a bad man. He wasn’t a bad man at all. And at least he had the privilege of being able to say at the end of his life that he made his own mistakes. His lordship was a courageous man. He chose a certain path in life, it proved to be a misguided one, but there, he chose it, he can say that at least. As for myself, I cannot even claim that. You see, I trusted. I trusted in his lordship’s wisdom. All those years I served him, I trusted I was doing something worthwhile. I can’t even say I made my own mistakes. Really – one has to ask oneself – what dignity is there in that?”