Stevens is a butler who has devoted himself to a life in service, following in the footsteps of his father. He seeks to be an example of a great butler and his view of the world is so narrow he appears to have missed what to the reader is obvious. He undertakes a trip partly to resolve a staff shortage (by luring the former housekeeper back.) During the trip he not only shares the present but also recounts tales of his service over the years.
This is told in the first person, and I particularly enjoyed it here as I began to read between the lines. I found myself reading between the lines and much of the story lies in what goes unsaid. You have to wonder exactly how far awry the butler is in his assessment of Miss Kenton the housekeeper and his Lordship. Along with the minutiae of domestic life is historical detail, and I found the passing information on the tensions within Europe in the interwar period interesting as it's one I haven't read much about previously. There is some humour to be found along in the tale that balances with a feeling of sadness at missed opportunities.
I really enjoyed this modern classic, it is beautifully understated, and I have no doubt I'll look up more works by the author in future.
Format: Paperback, borrowed from the the library
My Rating: 4*