Quite enjoyed this old world novel about a butler who travels around the UK in his employer’s car. On the trip he does a lot of reflecting about his life, his vocation, and possible regrets and missed opportunities because of his never wavering devotion to duty. Think Carson in Downton Abbey and English class conditioning. The novel takes in fascism, two world wars, and an unrealised love between the butler and his housekeeper.
The book reads like a classic, and to be honest not much happens in it, but its strength is in subtlety. It’s reflective of a bygone era, atmospheric, and the strength of the novel is in the writing, indeed, it won the Man Booker Prize for fiction in 1989. There is no doubt that Nobel prize winning author Ishiguro is a master at his craft, which is also evident in another novel of his that met with great success called Never Let Me Go. It was shortlisted for the Booker in 2005. Both that novel and this one have been made into movies with star studded casts.
It would be unfair to give too much away here. Let’s just say that all is not what it seems at an exclusive boarding school in England. On the surface, it is the perfect start in life, but the question is, what kind of life?
I found this book intriguing from the start. Even though I had no idea what was actually going on, the story had my attention and I could not pull away. Usually I consult reviews at some point while I am reading a book , but with this one I instinctively realized I should resist the temptation. It was better to allow the understanding to dawn slowly in small reveals along the way. I also resisted seeing the movie on a plane while I was actually still reading it – such self-control, and I enjoyed seeing The Social Network instead!
The writing by this Japanese author is excellent although there may not be enough happening for action and plot lovers. If you like to explore the nuances within relationships and are intrigued by interpersonal dynamics, this is definitely a book for you. And after you have read the book, you can see the movie!