Poignant. That is the word that probably best sums up how I felt when I finally finished Kazuo Ishiguro’s “The Remains of the Day“.
Before I say anything else, let me first confess that this book is not my usual choice of reading. I tended to stick to chick-lits and easy reading, but, a few months ago, I had decided to pursue creative writing and thus do whatever I can to improve my craft. One of the things to do is to read as much as I can, and to read all kinds of genre, so that I can be exposed to different types of writing.
So when I saw that Kazuo Ishiguro has won the Nobel Prize for Literature last month, I decided to try one of his most well-known books, “The Remains of the Day”. And I loved it.
“Perhaps, then, there is something to his advice that I should cease looking back so much, that I should adopt a more positive outlook and try to make the best of what remains of my day. 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?” – The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro
“The Remains of the Day” is about an ageing butler, Mr Stevens, who embarks on a holiday trip that takes him into the English countryside, to meet with an old friend. As he journeys through the few days, he reminisces about his past, especially some key events that ultimately shaped his present.
It was not easy for me at the beginning. There didn’t seem to be an obvious hook, and it took a lot of determination and discipline for me to keep turning the first few pages. It was, how shall I put it… a little bit too artsy for me.
But I grew to appreciate it as I continued reading, and by the end of the book, I have fallen in love with Ishiguro’s style of writing. I loved how he showed, and not told. I loved how, without revealing Mr Stevens’ feelings in words, the reader could still get it. My heart broke with Mr Stevens time and time again throughout the book. I absolutely ached for him, especially in moments where he quickly picked himself up and not allowed himself to dwell.
Ishiguro’s way of description is also amazing. Many of the scenes remained in my mind, and I could practically see, smell, and feel the places Mr Stevens experienced.
“The Remains of the Day” is an absolutely beautiful book to read. One that will touch your heart and leave a mark on your soul.