This is a reversal from my usual route since I saw the movie several years ago and not turn to the book. I should have done that first as this is an excellent book in many respects. What struck me the most is Ishiguro's ability to show so many angles of a life through a narrator with a very limited scope. Time and again Mr. Stevens reveals a great deal in a polite phrase, or in what he chooses not to say.Jean-Paul Satre kept running through my mind as he talked about the roles we play in life. In fact, life is nothing but roles and he famously discusses playing at being a waiter. Steven has played at the role of a butler all his life and he fights against the feeling that there is more to life than playing a role. He puts his entire life in the hands of his master, who it turns out saw his life become dismantled as he was a Nazi-sympathizer in England. An unthinking devotion to a master could be an analogy for a person's relationship with God (in a number of religions), but in this case the God is so flawed that the analogy could not be carried off.The relationship with Miss Keaton is achingly desperate and romantic. We can see that Stevens fails to possess the ability to open himself to another. He is so entwined with is role that he cannot break free. He can read romance novels in his office, but he justifies it by saying it helps him with his language. In the end, he is left with only himself in the role of the butler.It is often described as a sad book. But it is not sad because of a single tragic event, but because as a man takes stock of his life he finds so much missing. Facing the gulf he simply returns in the end to playing is role even better than he has.