Having read all the comments it looks as if I am in a minority of one here. I couldn't get into this book at all. Admittedly I have not had time to sit and read for long periods so have been picking it up and putting it down in the evernings, but after a month of trying I am accepting defeat and giving up. Sorry.
I read this years ago, it was nice to pick it up again. I agree with Lightshines that having seen the film, it was very difficult to picture the characters as anyone other than Emma Thompson & Anthony Hopkins - perfect casting there.
I did enjoy this book - as everyone has said, it's perfectly nuanced, understated and with a real undercurrent of longing and loss running throughout.
My overall impression of this book was a pervasive sadness. Because I knew who played the leads in the film, it was hard when reading not to visualise Antony Hopkins and Emma Thomson all the way through! It seemed obvious from the outset that Miss Kenton and Stevens had no hope of a romantic reconciliation, and I almost couldn't bear to read on because of his crushing disappointment being inevitable. Stevens simple statement 'at that moment, my heart was breaking' was devastating, as it is the first time he has verbalised any deep-seated emotion. I saw this is a highly literate book and doubted my ability to read it carefully enough, so I actually looked up some study notes on the Internet! They did help a bit, mainly reassuring me that I had picked out all the major themes. I'd like to see the film now - for those who have seen the movie, how does it compare?
I found each reminiscence in this book intriguing and interesting but the journey and story itself didn't hold my interest really. I found myself reading each chapter as an individual story and I had trouble making a coherent whole out of the book. Maybe if I had time to read it all in one sitting it would have held my interest more.
An enjoyable read, but one I must confess I am glad is finished.
I've meant to read this for ages and hadn't ever got round to it, and it didn't disappoint. I loved the pace of it and the colour of the world he describes and I think he's unusually deft at handling flashbacks in the narrative without losing track of what's going on when.
The extent to which the characters are actually deceiving themselves is fascinating and he somehow creates such subtle nuances. Obviously in Stevens but also in Miss Kenton, Lord Darlington.
I didn't initially enjoy reading this book. I loved the story but found that the inner voice narrative really got to me. However, I persisted and did appreciate the total package at the end.
One thing that struck me early on was the view in the morning. As I read this I was aware that the end of the book would all be leading to this point towards the R o t D. It struck me that this scene was setting up the ending and it did not fit with the rest of the journey. I guess it felt as though it was awkward and added just to keep the theme of the book going.
I loved how KI writes his characters. They are complex, real and feel as if you could reach out and touch them. He reveals his characters in a way that makes their faults acceptable and the reader want to get to know them. I have not read any of his other works but I will keep an eye out for his other books.