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Staying on [Hardcover]

Paul Scott
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 14 1977
In this sequel to The Raj Quartet, Colonel Tusker and Lucy Smalley stay on in the hills of Pankot after Indian independence deprives them of their colonial status. Finally fed up with accommodating her husband, Lucy claims a degree of independence herself. Eloquent and hilarious, she and Tusker act out class tensions among the British of the Raj and give voice to the loneliness, rage, and stubborn affection in their marriage. Staying On won the Booker Prize in 1977 and was made into a motion picture starring Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson in 1979.

"Staying On far transcends the events of its central action. . . . [The work] should help win for Scott . . . the reputation he deserves—as one of the best novelists to emerge from Britain's silver age."—Robert Towers, Newsweek

"Scott's vision is both precise and painterly. Like an engraver cross-hatching in the illusion of fullness, he selects nuances that will make his characters take on depth and poignancy."—Jean G. Zorn, New York Times Book Review

"A graceful comic coda to the earlier song of India. . . . No one writing knows or can evoke an Anglo-Indian setting better than Scott."—Paul Gray, Time

"Staying On provides a sort of postscript to [Scott's] deservedly acclaimed The Raj Quartet. . . . He has, as it were, summoned up the Raj's ghost in Staying On. . . . It is the story of the living death, in retirement, and the final end of a walk-on character from the quartet. . . . Scott has completed the task of covering in the form of a fictional narrative the events leading up to India's partition and the achievement of independence in 1947. It is, on any showing, a creditable achievement."—Malcolm Muggeridge, New York Times Book Review
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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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 --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Paul Scott (1920-78) was a British novelist best known for the tetralogy The Raj Quartet, published by the University of Chicago Press. Scott was drafted into the British Army during World War II and was stationed in India, an experience which shaped much of his literary work. The University of Chicago Press has also published his novels The Birds of Paradise, The Chinese Love Pavilion, Six Days in Marapore and Staying On, the latter of which won the Booker Prize for 1977.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars may even get you to tackle the Raj Quartet 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
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely, funny, and poignant 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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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  27 reviews
71 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 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-
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 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
5.0 out of 5 stars 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.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 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
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Paul Scott's affectionate sequel to The Raj Quartet July 24 2010
By Kenneth Walter Simpson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is a humorously affectionate sequel to Paul Scott's intriguing account of life in India under British colonial rule between 1942 and eventual independence in 1947. We meet Colonel 'Tusker' Smalley (Indian Army Rtd) who has elected to stay on at the old hill station of Pankot. The novel begins at the end, with Tusker's death in 1972. We meet the Bhoolabhoys, owners of Smith's, the hotel where Tusker and his wife Lucy, occupy an annexe - or small bungalow. The formidable and rich Mrs Bhoolabhoy is the owner and dominates her inoffensive husband. On Monday evenings Mr Boolabhoy drinks and reminisces wirh Tusker, who still tends to patronize Mr Bhoolabhoy, who doesn't seem to mind and enjoys listening to his stories. Tusker regularly fires his servant, Ibrahim who takes it philosophically, knowing he will soon be re-hired. On this last occasion Ibrahim hands Tusker a letter from management (Mrs Boolabhoy) just before he - Tusker - expires. One suspects the letter contains a non renewal of tenancy notice, the culmination of an ongoing dispute over fees between Mrs Boolabhoy and Tusker. The idiosyncrasies of all the characters, from the choleric Tusker to the philosophical Ibrahim and the explosive Mrs Boolabhoy, are treated amusingly, affectionately and with great skill.
We also catch up with the Laytons who also resided in Pankot - from the Raj Quartet. We learn that Lt-Col Layton has died - his snobbish wife, Mildred having predeceased him. He was father to Sarah and the tragic Susan, who took major roles during those tumultuous times. They, however, didn't stay on, but retired to their home, Combe Lodge Combe Magnus, Surrey. Guy Perron, another major character, had married Sarah Layton - the real hero and heroine of The Raj Quartet.
Staying on is wonderful conclusion to Paul Scott's outstanding series, and is a fitting epitaph to British rule in India.The Learning Process: Some Creative Impressions
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