Published by Faber & Faber on May 1989
Genre: Historical Fiction
Challenge Theme: A book published in the 20th century
Buy on Barnes & Noble
Buy on Amazon
In 1956, Stevens, a long-serving butler at Darlington Hall, decides to take a motoring trip through the West Country. The six-day excursion becomes a journey into the past of Stevens and England, a past that takes in fascism, two world wars, and an unrealized love between the butler and his housekeeper. Ishiguro’s dazzling novel is a sad and humorous love story, a meditation on the condition of modern man, and an elegy for England at a time of acute change.
I still don’t know how I feel about this book. I will start by saying the writing is so, so good. I imagine that is exactly what a butler from England during that time would sound like. It is crazy to think about not only how different times were then but how different England is from America. The seriousness in which butlers took their jobs during that time should be respected. Stevens was true to his job to such an extent that he seems to have missed out on his life. Throughout the book I felt so many different emotions towards him. At times he infuriated me and at times my heart hurt for him. The way he treated Miss Kenton at times really upset me but I understood that he dedicated his life to being the best butler and that is how he needed to run Darlington Hall.
At times this book was very slow for me, perhaps it was the sophistication in the writing. I think because of the way it was written it made me lost interest at times.
The ending broke my heart when he finally realized the unrequited love between himself and Miss Kenton. I saw it early on as a reader, I just wish he would have. He chose to dedicate his life to his profession and in return missed out on so much. It made me so sad for him. I really can’t decide if I loved this book or if it was just so so. This is the first time I have no idea what to rate a book. For that I am going to rate it right down the middle at 3 stars.
“What is the point of 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 in itself, whatever the outcome, cause for pride and contentment.”
“The evening’s the best part of the day. You’ve done your day’s work. Now you can put your feet up and enjoy it.”
“If you are under the impression you have already perfected yourself, you will never rise to the heights you are no doubt capable of.”
“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?”
“But then, I suppose, when with the benefit of hindsight one begins to search one’s past for such ‘turning points’, one is apt to start seeing them everywhere.”