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Staying on Hardcover – Mar 14 1977


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: William Heinemann Ltd (March 14 1977)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 043468113X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0434681136
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 13.8 x 2.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 399 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,365,201 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Staying On covers only a few months but it carries the emotional impact of a lifetime, even a civilisation" Philip Larkin "Certainly his funniest and, I think, his best. it is a first-class book and deserves to be remembered for a long time" Evening Standard "One of the most cherished books of the last quarter-century. It is good to re-read it for its humour and pathos as well as its wonderful description of the legacy of the Raj" Sunday Telegraph

About the Author

Paul Scott was born in London in 1920. He served in the army from 1940 to 1946, mainly in India and Malaya. He is the author of thirteen distinguished novels including his famous The Raj Quartet. In 1977, Staying On won the Booker Prize. Paul Scott died in 1978.

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Orrin C. Judd on Oct. 1 2000
Format: Paperback
If, like me, you've been meaning to read The Raj Quartet, but have been daunted by it's gargantuan bulk, this shorter sequel offers an ideal entree to Paul Scott's Anglo-Indian world. Here he takes what I understand are two very minor characters from the quartet, Colonel Tusker Smalley and his long-suffering wife Lucy, and makes their story the centerpiece of a sweetly elegiac comic novel.
The year is 1972 and the Smalleys have stayed on in Pankot, India even after Independence in 1947, less out of love of the country or it's people, than out of financial need and sheer spite on Tusker's part. Where the upper class Brits were able to just scamper home, the Smalleys represent the folk of the middle class, who felt that they had invested something in the colony and now deserved to get something out of it. As he explains to Lucy:
I know for years you've thought I was a damn' fool to have stayed on, but I was forty-six when Independence came, which is bloody early in life for a man to retire but too old to start afresh somewhere you don't know. I didn't fancy my chances back home, at that age, and I knew the pension would go further in India than in England. I still think we were right to stay on, though I don't think of it any longer as staying on , but just as hanging on, which people of our age and upbringing and limited talents, people who have never been really poor but never had any real money, never inherited money, never made real money, have to do, wherever they happen to be, when they can't work anymore. I'm happier hanging on in India, not for India as India but because I just can't merely think of it as a place where I drew my pay for 25 years of my working life, which is a hell of a long time anyway, though by rights it should have been longer.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Debbie Terrill on March 24 2000
Format: Paperback
I would not rank this lovely novel with the Raj Quartet in power or scope, but it is certainly a delightful read. It is tragi-comic... comic in the characters Scott presents to us; tragic (or at least sad) in its portrayal of a marriage coming to its natural end.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 31 reviews
74 of 74 people found the following review helpful
may even get you to tackle the Raj Quartet Oct. 1 2000
By Orrin C. Judd - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
If, like me, you've been meaning to read The Raj Quartet, but have been daunted by it's gargantuan bulk, this shorter sequel offers an ideal entree to Paul Scott's Anglo-Indian world. Here he takes what I understand are two very minor characters from the quartet, Colonel Tusker Smalley and his long-suffering wife Lucy, and makes their story the centerpiece of a sweetly elegiac comic novel.
The year is 1972 and the Smalleys have stayed on in Pankot, India even after Independence in 1947, less out of love of the country or it's people, than out of financial need and sheer spite on Tusker's part. Where the upper class Brits were able to just scamper home, the Smalleys represent the folk of the middle class, who felt that they had invested something in the colony and now deserved to get something out of it. As he explains to Lucy:
I know for years you've thought I was a damn' fool to have stayed on, but I was forty-six when Independence came, which is bloody early in life for a man to retire but too old to start afresh somewhere you don't know. I didn't fancy my chances back home, at that age, and I knew the pension would go further in India than in England. I still think we were right to stay on, though I don't think of it any longer as staying on , but just as hanging on, which people of our age and upbringing and limited talents, people who have never been really poor but never had any real money, never inherited money, never made real money, have to do, wherever they happen to be, when they can't work anymore. I'm happier hanging on in India, not for India as India but because I just can't merely think of it as a place where I drew my pay for 25 years of my working life, which is a hell of a long time anyway, though by rights it should have been longer.
But now, with Tusker's health in decline, Lucy has increasing concerns about her own future. As is, they have led a pretty precarious existence for the past 15 years, having been reduced to living in a hotel, the new owner of which is a ghastly Indian woman, who married the manager, Mr. Bhoolabhoy, one of Tusker's few remaining friends. The author etches a finely detailed portrait of his characters and in particular of the difficult marriage of the Smalleys. Tusker is an irascible curmudgeon straight out of an old British barracks. Lucy has been disappointed that their relationship did not fulfill her romantic ideals. These strains are exacerbated by the daily indignities they must now suffer as the last seedy remnants of the departed British Empire, looked down upon by the very natives they once lorded it over. In the final scenes of the novel, two letters are written which will change these peoples' lives, for better and for worse.
This is a very funny and ultimately a deeply moving story. The Smalleys are a couple the reader won't soon forget. I liked it so much, I think I may finally heft that colossal Quartet off of the shelf and give it a go.
GRADE: A-
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Touching the very strings of our soul's harp... May 11 2005
By Elitsa Arnaudova - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
In his sequel of The Raj Quartet Paul Scott depicts the life of two of the minor characters Tusker and Lucy Smalley. This is the appealing story of the last surviving members of the old school of British in Pankot, a town in India, 24 years after the Independence. Covering only a few months, it makes us witnesses of a whole lifetime. Frankly told, often causing us to feel a lump in our throats, Scott's novel skillfully pictures the emotional impact the débãcle of the British imperialism in India has on a family who chose to stay on.

It took me a while to become fully immersed in the book due to its unusual beginning. The very first page tells of the death of Tusker Smalley, which, in fact, is also the end of that elegiac psychological novel. As I read pretty much the same description of the very same episode at the end of the book, I felt something totally different. Since Tusker was already a friend of mine, his ways not just a weird old man's habitudes, his life not merely a consecution of events, but the result of unfavourable circumstances and crucial decisions, his death grieved me deeply.

The divergence between the story and the plot draws us into a mazy time puzzle, which we have to arrange for ourselves. We are shown into the all-embracing socio-historical setting both before and after the Independence in 1947 through the eyes of Mr and Mrs Smalley, their servant Ibrahim, and the manager of the hotel where they live, Mr Bhoolobhoy. The various perspectives contribute to the comprehension and comprehensiveness of this fading Anglo-Indian portrait of a whole civilization in miniature.

The character of Lucy Smalley is similarly developed through a number of retrospections. In her imaginary conversations with the young Englishman Mr Turner she looks back with bitterness on the days of the raj, most of which pass under the sign of the imposed British hierarchy. Just when she achieves the aspired position of Colonel's Lady "the old hierarchy collapsed and a new one, the Indian one, took its place". Thus, nothing changes for them because the new race of sahibs and memashibs places them as far down in the social scale as the Eurasians in the days of the raj.

The changes brought about by the Independence estrange Lucy and Tusker even more than before. The lack of communication cuts them off from one another and makes them live separate lives under the same roof. He has a rude awakening when he realizes that the huge rise in the cost of living in England prices them out of the home market and they must stay on in India. This leads to his "personality change", as Lucy calls it. She, for her part, is terribly lonely because in this new world she has become "a black sheep in reverse exposure". She fears the moment when her ill husband will pass away and she will be destitute because, `She would be alone in a foreign country. There would be no one of her own kind, her own colour, no close friend by whom to be comforted or on whom she could rely for help and guidance."

Staying on is not a novel of action, but one of contemplation and speculation. Its very title implies passivity. It however, turns out to be misleading for in Tusker and Lucy's case staying on in India requires strong will and endurance. In fact, this paradox makes Tusker and Lucy analyze and reconsider their lives; makes them realize that their happiness was sacrificed part because of circumstances, part for habits' sake. The profundity of their psychological portraits, the moving episodes, even the purifying humour turn this novel into a quest for our own inner selves. Thus, even though the end of Staying On is well-known from the very first line, it still strikes us with its poignancy for we have changed our perception and have turned into Tusker and Lucy's best friend who knows all they've been through,

So when Lucy sits on her "throne" in the bathroom, appealing to Tusker:

...Tusker, I hold out my hand, and beg you, Tusker, beg, beg you to take it and take me with you. How can you not, Tusker? Oh, Tusker, Tusker, Tusker, how can you make me stay here by myself while you yourself go home?

what I hear is the echo of the record Lucy loves best, Chloë:

Oh through the black of night, I gotta be where you are. If it's wrong or right, I gotta go where you are. I'll roam through the dismal swamplands, searching for you. If you are lost there let me be there too...
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Lovely, funny, and poignant March 24 2000
By Debbie Terrill - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I would not rank this lovely novel with the Raj Quartet in power or scope, but it is certainly a delightful read. It is tragi-comic... comic in the characters Scott presents to us; tragic (or at least sad) in its portrayal of a marriage coming to its natural end.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
After the Raj, What? June 3 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio Cassette
Though not the same characters of the Raj Quartet, this book continues the saga of British colonials in India, those who stayed on after India achieved its independence. Interesting reading now with Hong Kong being ceded to Red China this month. Many people there who spent their lives in the last British outpost will be staying on. It makes for both relevant and comparative reading at the present time
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Not the brightest jewel in the crown for all... Aug. 27 2012
By aruna - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Staying On was quite a discovery. I have not read Paul Scott's novels though I have seen the tele serial based on the Jewel in the Crown.

With a small cast of characters set in a small hill station of Pankot the author has created a microcosm of life of the Britishers who stayed on. The novel impresses by its depth and life like portrayal.

The main cast of characters in the novel are:
- old English couple Tusker Smalley , a retired Colonel of the British Army and his wife Lucy Smalley,
- Lila Bhoolabhoy the landlady of the Lodge where the Smalley's live, her husband Francis Bhoolabhoy -Manager of the hotel owned by her and Tuskers good friend,
- Ibrahim the Smalley's household help,
- Joseph the mali( gardner),

The Smalley's are few of the Britishers who have stayed on in India after independence.The reader joins the Smalleys and their little world in Pankot somewhere in 1972, a good 15 years after independence. In the days of the raj they were at the lower end of the pecking order, and had a middle class life. But now things are getting worse. Their situation is best summarized when Tusker explains to his wife
" Perhaps for a white person being poor in England's better than being poor in India though by average Indian standards we're rich if not by the standards of Indians we mix with."

Now the forty year old relationship of Smalley's is under strain as old age, ill health and limited resources start to have a telling effect. The future looks grim. Their communication is breaking down and the reasons for staying on get questioned by Lucy. The author deftly uses simple day to day events like making a poached egg for breakfast, going for a movie or inviting Father Sebastian and Susy for dinner to focus on the deteriorating relationship of the Smalley couple. The novel covers only a few months but the author gives an insight into Smalley's past lives through letters, monologues and Lucy's imaginary talk with an expected guest- Mr Turner.

The author develops the tragedy looming for the Smalley's in slow but subtle fashion. The build up starts with something as innocuous as the cutting of grass in the lawn. Tusker starts to get aggravated with the uncut grass, something which was to be done by the landlady as a part of the agreement. To mitiigate Tusker's anger, Lucy engages a mali but not before manipulation of sorts to make it appear as if the mali is employed by the landlady. This seems only to give a false lull to the storm which is building up around the Smalley's. Lila the landlady has joined a consortium and is planning to evict the couple so that she can develop the property.

The post independence era of the 70's in India with its focus on development provides a sharp backdrop to the vestiges of the raj symbolised by the slow moving seemingly uneventful life of the Smalley's. Each of the main character is vividly portrayed. They are life like we see them grow as the events unfold. Tusker begins to silently understand what is going on. Lucy and Francis Bhoolabhoy start to go on their offensive with their respective spouses as they get pushed to the wall. Lucy is becoming insecure with Tusker's poor health and is not sure how she will live after him. This leads Lucy to get her husband to tell her the state of finances. Tusker does so in a letter which is his last letter and the only love letter of Lucy's life. Francis wants to stay on in Pankot while is wife wants to develop the property become rich and travel. He protests against Lila's designs but eventually is forced to type a nasty letter to Tusker to vacate the lodge which is the last letter Tusker reads and possibly dies of shock. The irony and the pathos arising from the two letters is shattering.

Even though the novel opens with Tusker's death. The author keeps the interest going as he takes us back and forth to unravel the Smalley's life. In the end, we are able to have a context to Tusker's death and therefore a deeper understanding of the tragedy.

The language employed gives the novel a real feel. The author uses a lot of Hindi colloquial word such as mallum, mali, ek dum, bus, daftar, dak, Burra Memsahib. So are many of the dialogues, in particular the exchanges by Ibrahim with his `sacred phrases'.
He explains the Smalley's eccentricity to the confused young mali " It is a different kind of pagal (mad in Hindi). English kind."

Elsewhere Ibrahim tells the mali " Given push, not pushed. Get idiom right." As he explains getting the push - chucked out of the employ of Smalley's.

The author has an eye for detail and some of the day to day things like a tonga ride are beautifully captured. I can vouch for the description having commuted to school in a tonga.
Lucy Smalley explains in her imaginary chat with Turner, an expected guest,- ` Anyway I thought this (tonga) was better than a taxi, quite the best way to bring you to the club because sitting like we are with our backs to the driver and looking back at what we're leaving behind you get this gradually unfolding and expanding view of the Pankot valley.'

The comic side of the novel gives it a charm of its own. The thrones of the Smalley's in their toilets, the Bhoolabhoys love making are of course some of the hilarious ones.

This is a novel is contemplation and reflection. It explores the depth of relationships and how they can get stretched to the limit. It has a slow and subtle movement. It will however hold special appeal to those familiar with India of early post independence era and those who have had in their neighborhood Britishers who stayed on.

For those who might be interested there is a movie called `36 Chowringhee Lane' (1981) which deals with the life of a British teacher and her brother in post independence India. This was a critically acclaimed movie which won a few Bafta nominations. The lead actress got Evening Standard British Film Awards for the best actress for 1982.


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