historical fiction | booker prize winner | novel
First published 1989
Mr. Stevens, Miss Kenton, Lord Darlington
Mr Stevens is the head butler at Darlington Hall, a stately home in England. The novel opens with Mr Stevens about to embark on a road trip to visit Miss Kenton, the housekeeper who left Darlington Hall 20 years ago to get married. Mr Stevens has received a letter from Miss Kenton and is keen to find out if she wishes to return to Darlington Hall. He spends the novel reminiscing about the time they worked together and the various guests that visited Lord Darlington during the years between the wars and afterwards, when the reputation of Lord Darlington was ruined after it was reported that he had aligned himself with the Nazis.
Stevens meets Miss Kenton in a small cafe close to where she lives, and after spending two hours sharing old memories together, Miss Kenton goes to get her bus. It is at the bus stop that she reveals that she has been in love with Stevens all this time.
This is a story of unrequited love. A life left unfulfilled because of a misguded and stubborn belief that dignity and loyalty to one's employer are the most important thing. Stevens' journal entries show that he is almost trying to convince himself of these things and regrets having lost out on the opportunity for a life and love with Miss Kenton.
It took me a while to get into the mood and rhythm of this novel, finding some passages quite boring, but once it becomes obvious that the connection between Stevens and Miss Kenton was more that just professional, the underlying and subtle hints left by Ishiguro start to jump out at you and it all begins to makes sense. A sad, lonely and very moving book and an absolute must-read for all English literature lovers.
Review Rating - 4/5
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