This is a novel that both frustrates and compels. In his most celebrated work, Ishiguro presents us with a beautiful and intense portrayal of an ageing butler, Stevens.
The novel is set across six days in which Stevens undertakes a journey to discover himself and the consequence of past decisions. His journey is motivated by his repressed feelings for Miss Kenton, the former housekeeper, as we slowly learn through successive episodes of nostalgia. Stevens is a ghost of a lost profession and generation, and it is through his narration that we are forced to reconsider our ideas of the meaning of dignity, love and life.
One of the most dexterous achievements of this novel is Ishiguro’s success in revealing Stevens’s character to everyone save the narrator himself. The pace of the novel, like the protagonist’s character, has the potential to frustrate. But this appears to be Ishiguro’s intention, contributing to the ingenious construction and structure of the novel. Despite being difficult to get into, it is fundamentally a simple story delivered with seamless eloquence, and as such, well deserves perseverance.
publisher: faber and faber