H H I I I The Remains of the Day, Ishiguro's third novel, explores national history through the mind of Stevens, a model English butler who believes that he has served humanity by devoting his life to the service of a "great" man, Lord Darlington. The time is 1956 but the story includes flashbacks to 1923 and the following years; Darlington has died, and Darlington Hall has been taken over by an American businessman. As Stevens takes a motor trip to the West Country, traveling farther and farther from familiar surroundings, he also embarks on a solitary journey through his own memory. What he discovers there causes him to question not only Lord Darlington's greatness, but also the meaning of his own life.

The farther Stevens travels from Darlington Hall, it seems, the closer he comes to understanding his life there. But in Stevens's travel journal Ishiguro shapes an ironic narrative that reveals far more to the reader than it does to Stevens. The butler believes, for instance, that he makes his trip for "professional" reasons, to persuade a former housekeeper, Miss Kenton, to return to Darlington Hall. But actually the reader sees that the matter is highly personal: Stevens had loved Miss Kenton but let her marry another man; he now wishes to make up for lost time, to correct the mistakes of his past.

The book is not only a love story but also examines the relationship between employers and employees in England at this period (between WWI and WWII). The reader, though Stevens is long in admitting it to himself, understands delicately yet through a powerful process that Darlington is a Nazi sympathizer and therefore not the "great man" that Stevens thought he once served.

Kazuo Ishiguro packed a whole lifetime of work and relationships into his novel but also the realization of inescapable regret and Stevensí self-examination. Remains of the day has the potential to bring you to tears with its heartbreaking climax, however the reader must try to read between the lines to be affected by it. I do not highly recommend this book to those who enjoy lots of action. Personally I found it relatively slow moving yet quiet enjoyed the journey towards Stevensís understanding, written in such a way that fits perfectly with his character. Perhaps this explains why The Remains of the Day was selected by the New York Times Book Review as one of the best books of 1989 and won the prestigious Booker Prize in England.