Lord Darlington’s butler, Stevens, is rigorously devoted to duty and honour at great cost to his personal happiness. His sense of class and tradition causes him to abandon the bedside of his dying father in order to wait on his lord and a party of Nazi sympathising house guests. At the heart of the story is the many years of non-romance between Stevens and Miss Kenton, the housekeeper – a romance that might have flourished were it not for Steven’s obsessive devotion to “service”. After the war, Stevens is forced to ponder the true nature of his relationship with Miss Kenton and his own criminal passivity in the face of his master’s fascist politics. Miss Kenton, it later emerges, has been married for over 20 years and therefore is no longer Miss Kenton but has become Mrs Benn. She admits to wondering occasionally what a life with Stevens might have been like, but she has come to love her husband and is looking forward to the birth of their first grandchild. Stevens muses over lost opportunities, both with Miss Kenton and, with the death of Lord Darlington, focuses on the "remains of his day", referring to his future service with Mr Farraday.
The Booker prize-winning novel by Nagasaki-born Kazuo Ishiguro was adapted into a 1993 film starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson, and was nominated for eight Academy Awards. This musical adaptation received mixed notices.
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