The latter is set some time in the future; Remains of the Day dwells in the past. But both focus on people whose sole job it is to serve others, even when it means sacrificing—or not being allowed to have—a life of one’s own.
Mr. Stevens is a butler who has taken tremendous pride in his job—well, his life’s work. For him, there is no higher ambition than to serve his master perfectly. To be invisible at just the right moment, and visible at just right moment. To see a need before it is spoken, to flawlessly manage a household, to be prepared for any request at any moment. His own wants and desires are never considered, and he can’t imagine why any servant would want more than this life.
For 30 years Stevens served Lord Darlington until the master died and his estate was purchased by an American. Stevens can’t quite figure out his new master. He is unlike an English gentlemen and has a curious method of dealing with Stevens, who struggles to learn the art of bantering.
His American master suggests that Stevens needs a vacation and insists that he take a week or drive around the country. Stevens, though reluctant at first, obliges, and his adventures begin. His journey, though, gives him ample time to reflect upon his years of service, to question his motivations and decisions, and to perhaps concede that his master was, after all, terribly flawed—and Stevens as well.
I absolutely loved this book. We want to shake Stevens into seeing what is before him. I put the movie on my Netflix queue immediately and can hardly wait to see it.
Other Reviews of The Remains of the Day
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