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The Remains of the Day

Written by: Kazuo Ishiguro
Narrated by: Dominic West
Length: 7 hrs and 5 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (101 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Kazuo Ishiguro's Booker Prize-winning masterpiece became an international best seller on publication, was adapted into an award-winning film, and has since come to be regarded as a modern classic.

The Remains of the Day is a spellbinding portrayal of a vanished way of life and a haunting meditation on the high cost of duty. It is also one of the most subtle, sad, and humorous love stories ever written. 

It is the summer of 1956, when Stevens, a man who has dedicated himself to his career as a perfect butler in the onetime great house of Darlington Hall, sets off on a holiday that will take him deep into the English countryside and, unexpectedly, into his own past, especially his friendship with the housekeeper, Miss Kenton. As memories surface of his lifetime "in service" to Lord Darlington and of his life between the wars, when the fate of the continent seemed to lie in the hands of a few men, he finds himself confronting the dark undercurrent beneath the carefully run world of his employer.

©1989 Kazuo Ishiguro (P)2018 Vintage Canada

What the critics say

“This is a work that goes to the heart of a lost life. Beautifully composed, totally unsentimental, immeasurably tender.” (Harold Pinter, The Observer)

“Apart from being suspenseful, intriguing, elegiac and politically astute, this is also the funniest novel I've read in ages.... Both subtle and humane.... Simply read it for pleasure, and be richly rewarded.” (Jonathan Coe, The Guardian)

“A perfect novel. I couldn't put it down.” (Ann Beattie)

“Marvellous.... Superb.” (The Globe and Mail)

“Brilliant.... A story both beautiful and cruel.” (Salman Rushdie, The Observer)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Quietly compelling

This novel is essentially the literary equivalent of a contemplative sigh breathed onto a rainy window, and I don't mean that as a critique. It's calm, understated, and reflective in an immensely enjoyable way. It's also a compelling exploration of the national character of Britain and the nature of 'dignity'. The Remains of the Day isn't obtuse or intentionally difficult to read, but it also isn't lacking in depth.

Dominic West does a fine job narrating. My only small quibble is that West's narration didn't quite convey the right sense of age. The narrator is meant to be an elderly man, but West doesn't really express this in his reading. Ultimately though, this detracts very little from the overall experience.

Ishiguro is an immensely gifted author and this book is a treasure.

3 people found this helpful

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Simply Excellent

This is a wonderful and tremendously thought-provoking examination of what it means to live one's life well.

With heartfelt sincerity Ishiguro takes on a journey into the thought life of Mr. Stevens, a butler in service of one of England's lords in the time leading up to the Second World War. we get to see the humanness of Stevens as he tries to live his life according to his deeply held principles, even while his emotional center seems to key him into the fact that perhaps a few of those principles are misguided.

Now, approaching what might be called the evening of his life, he looks back with both pride and regret, trying to determine the best way forward.

I am struck by the utter gentleness with which Ishiguro treats his protagonist. All at once he is sympathetic to Stevens plights, while also very clearly in disagreement with some of his worldview. A template we would all be a little better for adopting.

This a look at the emotional and mental life of the individual, and the sometimes tragic war each wages withing every human heart. I cannot recommend this book enough.

2 people found this helpful

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Not for me

If you want a treatise on how to be a butler, this book is for you. In a historical context, I suppose it was somewhat informative. Endless descriptions on polishing silver, bantering, how to respond, etc...blah blah blah. A life lived that was not ones own. Some redeeming conversations that brought a smile, but overall boring. Narrator was adequate but no better or worse than others. Don’t know what all the fuss was about this book.

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  • Jo
  • 2020-03-10

Really love it

I read books twice and I really enjoyed it. So glad that I finally listened to the audible version. I tried not to finish it too soon so that I could savour it more.

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Thoroughly Enjoyed This

I had never seen the movie and I thought I would try it out, knowing nothing about the story. This book drew me in and I could not put it down. In fact, I listened to it at 1.25x in order to devour it faster. The narration was top notch and I would listen to more by this author and this narrator.

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Well read book.

Although the story is well read by the narrator the pace is slow and frustrating.

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Wonderful book; fabulous reader.

Books written in first-person have an added responsibility when recorded for audio because the voice has to reflect the character. Mr West does a fabulous job. The book is wonderful, of course. [The film was also superb and faithful to the novel.] But I think listening to this book does it best justice because the book is structured as diary entries so it comes alive read by an excellent narrator.