This book was first published in 1989 and since then, there have been countless professional reviews on it that everything I said here—although they are my honest opinion—would most likely be just something similar to any of those reviews. That’s why I’ll keep this brief; The Remains of the Day is a thoroughly beautiful book.
“If you are under the impression you have already perfected yourself, you will never rise to the heights you are no doubt capable of.”
This is my first time reading Ishiguro’s book and it certainly won’t be the last. I bought The Remains of the Day on a whim a few days ago when I was on vacation in Bangkok. There, I visited Kinokuniya bookstore and I saw this gorgeous looking Kinokuniya exclusive commemorative edition of this book.
With absolutely no knowledge on what this book was about, I was left very satisfied with my purchase by the end of my read. Most of the story in this book revolves around Stevens—a gentleman and highly professional butler—who went on a six days’ vacation and during his vacation, we get to see his past. This is truly a beautiful book about regret, dignity, repression, decisions, acceptance, and most of all, memories. There are a lot of messages that can be taken from this book but in my opinion, the most dominant one is to never dwell on the past.
“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?”
Highly atmospheric, combined with Ishiguro’s incredible prose that gives hidden beauty and messages within each word and paragraphs, The Remains of the Day compelled me to read the book within two sittings. It’s that good. Ishiguro’s prose here is truly a delight to read, it’s evocative, beautiful, and inspirational.
If I was reading this back when I was maybe 15 years old, this book probably wouldn’t have that much impact simply because there weren’t enough monumental turning points to ponder yet. But reading this now, there are tons of passages I can relate to. It all comes down to this: we can’t ever turn back the clock, cherish every moment.
“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.
I heard from plenty of readers that this is Kazuo’s best work and I can certainly vouch for the praises. This book is a piece of literature that came out of nowhere into my life and somehow, ended up becoming a book that I know I will reread and remember for the remains of my days.