The Remains of the Day

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(Photograph I instagrammed – shallow, I know – the evening the book arrived. That’s my midnight snack)

I won’t lie – I started this book only because I wanted to watch the movie. It’s been sitting on the external hard disk for so long and I wanted to know if I should keep it, or delete it to make space for other movies. I have a rule – I don’t watch movie adaptations before I’ve read the book. And now that I’ve read Ishiguro’s masterpiece, I don’t know if I’ll be comfortable watching the film (To hell with the drama! I’ll watch it, anyway). The book was great. And great is an understatement.

There are two things  – a book with an unrequited love story, and a Byronic hero: world-weary, emotionally-conflicted, charismatic – that make me go weak in the knees. The Remains of the Day gave me both. The story is about Stevens, a butler of Darlington Hall, who embarks on a vacation. This holiday is his first time away from Darlington Hall in several years and the protagonist-narrator cannot but go back repeatedly to anecdotes about his time there. He is a principled man, dutiful and has achieved a certain amount of ‘dignity’ that his profession demands. It is also this very duty that has estranged him of his love for Miss Kenton. The journey from Darlington Hall to Weymouth is his journey from his present to his past – from the consequences to the sacrifices he made at a time when history was going through enormous changes and he believed that his service, his employer needed more attention than his own life and matters of the heart.

I was told that the book would be slow. Mostly because of how elaborate the prose is. But it isn’t. It is beautiful. Almost like someone’s life unfolding in a quick motion, right before your own eyes.

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