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All booksLiterary fictionThe Remains of the Day
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
Literary fiction

The Remains of the Day

by Kazuo Ishiguro

Quick take

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?

Why I love it

Book of the Month

A good, fulfilling and purposeful life—a life well lived. At the end of the day, isn’t that all anyone wants? If you think an aging English butler would have little to teach you about how to live, you will be very surprised. Perhaps "teach" is not the right word, because we actually learn from his mistakes, subtly revealed as the facade of his perfectly ordered life is slowly pulled away. We see the opportunities he missed. Love lost. Time wasted. All in pursuit of "dignity," to be a loyal employee in service to a set of ideas and principles that, in the end, are not the right ones. And there are powerful lessons in the pain of regret we feel as our butler comes to realize—too late—that he’s been misled. The Remains of the Day is, without doubt, one of those books you must read before you die. More importantly, it is a book you should read with your life still ahead of you.

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This is Kazuo Ishiguro's profoundly compelling portrait of Stevens, the perfect butler, and of his fading, insular world in post-World War II England. Stevens, at the end of three decades of service at Darlington Hall, spending a day on a country drive, embarks as well on a journey through the past in an effort to reassure himself that he has served humanity by serving the "great gentleman," Lord Darlington. But lurking in his memory are doubts about the true nature of Lord Darlington's "greatness," and much graver doubts about the nature of his own life.

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Member thoughts

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All (1109)
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1156 ratings
  • 45% Love
  • 38% Like
  • 12% Dislike

    A haunting and beautiful portrait of regret, solitude, and unyielding loyalty in post WWII England, impossibly narrated in the voice of an English butler. I’d recommend this selectively—not for all.

  • Honolulu, HI

    I’m going to have to reread this one, there are so many layers that get unpeeled. Really makes you think about what makes your life worth living - even if you look back and all you see are mistakes.

  • Marlborough, MA

    Its hard not to insert your own doubts, regrets, and even guilt into the mix as you read this story. Id be curious to see someone read it in their 20s then rereads it late in life to compare thoughts

  • Manchester, IA

    This was a perfect book to read in the rainy weather we currently have. I flew through this book in a weekend. I savored every word in this quiet story told through the memories of the English butler.

  • Vista, CA

    I actually began reading this book out loud,to myself, in a British accent. It helped with the narrative. Also, I could hear Anthony Hopkins voice narrating. It's a bit stodgy, but it's about a butler

  • Yorkville, IL

    One of my favorite authors, did not disappoint. He has a way of subtly revealing a story without explicitly saying it. The story truly made you reflect on life's questions we may all face in the end.

  • West Jordan, UT

    There is a quite heroism here, tinged with some sadness for that which was lost by the choice to be so loyal and consistent to a profession that is called to serve the imperfect. Dignity has a cost.

  • Savannah, GA

    An aging old-guard butler fights the realization that he has wasted his life in service to a not so noble gentleman, yet still wants to hold on to the belief that being in service is doing his part.

  • West Hollywood, CA

    Full disclosure...this is my favorite book of all time! I read it first, every year. It makes you look at your own life and the decisions you’ve made and how they define you or how you let them.

  • Minneapolis, MN

    Perfect unreliable narrator. Some may find Ishiguro's commitment to a perfectly crafted English butler's voice rather plodding, I could only be enthralled by the beauty and subtlety of his prose.


    Exquisitely written story of an older man reflecting on his life's work and whether it mattered and his lost relationships with his father and the woman he loved. Heartbreaking! Stays with you.

  • Nashville, TN

    I’ll be real—this book was a bit of a slow-burn for me. By the end, I realized how much I liked it. Stevens is such a conflicting character, and Ishiguro, as always, writes beautifully.

  • McKinney, TX

    Loved the thoughts stirred up here - are we seeing our world and life through rose colored glasses or how we want to see them? Does it matter if the rest of the world sees it differently?

  • Milwaukee, WI

    You get to know the character by what he recalls when reflecting on his life. Beautiful story about reflection, regrets and what it means to have a life well lived. Marvelously crafted.

  • College Station, TX

    This book provide you with a new perspective, allows you to be introspective about your life, and help you be more forgiving about choices you have made. A book that remains with you.

  • Strasburg, VA

    Ishiguro's writing in this book is gorgeous. The way he slowly unfolds the back story of Stevens is as masterful as I have experienced. It is historical fiction at its finest.

  • Marietta, GA

    Ishiguro writes in a way that draws you in and keeps you engaged until the end. Each time I read a book by him I am in awe about how different they are from his other novels.

  • Washington, DC

    This is a beautiful meditation of a butler's road trip to visit an old friend. He reflects on his vocation, his former employer, a lost love, and the influence of his father.

  • Nampa, ID

    Even though the ending was anticlimactic, so many lesson were throughout the book. I found myself thinking about the book even when I wasn't reading it. Truly worth reading

  • Atlanta , GA

    One of my favorite books of all time. I first read it almost three decades ago, but lost my copy. When I saw it was an add-on, I decided to read it again. So glad I did.

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