Date Published: 2005
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Source: Local Library
Goodreads Synopsis: In 1956, Stevens, a long-serving butler at Darlington Hall, decides to take a motoring trip through the West Country. The six-day excursion becomes a journey into the past of Stevens and England, a past that takes in fascism, two world wars and an unrealised love between the butler and his housekeeper. Ishiguro’s dazzling novel is a sad and humorous love story, a meditation on the condition of modern man, and an elegy for England at a time of acute change.
My View: After reading Never Let Me Go (read my review here) by Kazuo Ishiguro, I was of the opinion that we two didn’t get along and hence I kept my distance from his books. I guess there was too much hype about the former book and it did let me down. But when a friend of mine got this book issued from the library and I saw a close friend had given it a 4 star rating, I decided to give Ishiguro yet another chance. Was it worth it? Let’s see.
First 15 pages and I knew this book was as doomed as the first one I read of his and this would probably be the final strike in our relationship (me and Ishiguro) but I kept reading on (can’t leave books unfinished and to be fair, I give each book a minimum 80 pages chance except for extraordinary circumstances where I might be frustrated enough to fling it at the wall sooner than 80 pages).
After the first 30 pages, things begin to change. I started getting used to his writing style and the story though slow-moving, caught my attention to keep going way past the 80 page mark. And then I read on and on to see what (if) would happen next.
So did something happen next? Well, to be frank, if the book didn’t have those last 20 pages or so, this book might have done it for me. I would have broken up with Ishiguro forever and ever. But he knew just how to press the right nerve and strike a balance. He made me smile and I have to applaud him for that. His quirky (not in the normal sense of the word) main character is something to hear the book narrated from.
The thing that did irk me a bit was the slow narrative but I guess that’s Ishiguro’s style. And to be frank, it wasn’t that slow as to turn uninteresting. He does gets his point across. What I must appreciate is the way he creeps things in so smoothly that you won’t even know it’s there until he points it out and then you are like ‘Woah! When did that happen?’ Smooth, real smooth, Ishiguro. You got me there. And the last few pages turned this book around for me. So from 2 to 2.5 to 3.5 stars, this book sure was a journey in itself. And I might have made up with Ishiguro yet again. Which one of his should I pick up next? Any suggestions?