Ages and ages ago, having failed to finish at least three books in a row, I felt a bit low and switched from reading in the evenings to tv and crochet. Flicking throught Netflix, I saw that they had The Remains of the Day available. I remembered liking it when I saw it on TV many years ago, so I switched it on and watched it. Netflix, saving my data, suggested soon afterwards that I watch 84 Charing Cross Road. Never having seen it before but remembering it was based on a book and also starred Anthony Hopkins, I watched it and loved it. Just the tonic for someone in a reading rut. The following morning I went to my local book shop and ordered batch of books.
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
When you see the film first and enjoy it, it is hard to imagine the book can be any better. I can assure you that even in the case of The Remains of the Day, the book is better. In fact I think it is safe to say that you can read the book and watch the film and take away different things from each. While the film centers on events in the house during the course of Mr. Stevens’ working life there, the book centers on Mr. Stevens’ holiday. As he travels, he remembers and recounts memories of various days, events and persons during his lifetime working as a butler at a stately home. The language, descriptions and behaviour in the book are enchanting. I finished it too quickly and feel I should have spread it over a few more days than I did. Having not finished a decent book in months, I was thrilled to find a book which enthralled me. I read it in the space of three days.
84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
Even shorter than The Remains of the Day, 84 Charing Cross Road was finished in just two days. Again, too fast. I loved it. Cliched though it may be, it made me laugh and cry and want to meet the characters. The film was witty and moving, but the book even more so. Being a work of non-fiction, the book was a wonderful reminder of how the written word alone can connect people and how big the distance between London and New York was in the days before cheap flights, cheap phone calls or the revolution of the internet.
Howard’s End by E. M. Forster
Again, a book I had only known from its film version. I remembered I had enjoyed the film and certain scenes were quite clear in my mind, but I had forgotten the overall story. Going by the fact that a) E. M. Forster wrote the book and that b) the cast of the film included not only Helena Bonham Carter and Emma Thompson, but also Vanessa Redgrave and Anthony Hopkins, I decided I could not go far wrong by odering and reading the book. Ah, wonderful! The story would sound awfully long-winded if I were to describe it here, so I will leave it to you to try for yourselves. Like all the E.M. Forster novels I have read, it is slow-paced, descriptive, clever and makes you think. So if you are more the page-turner, action-packed, high drama kind of book lover, it might not be for you. I, on the other hand will definitely be reading it again.