- 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: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,033,403 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Staying on Hardcover – Mar 14 1977
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"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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com
Scott creates real three dimensional characters who we have all known and creates moral dilemmas that show them for what they are.
This series should be required reading for American State Department and the Military as Imperial America presumes the Americanization of the world.
A pivotal document about colonial politics, racism, petty people with power who often have insufficient insight to see them selves in others and what happens when a culture sends the people who can't quite make it at home out to the colonies.
I found myself cutting my life short to get back to the reading. This is my second and richer reading; A+.
British rule in India is long over, but Lucy and "Tusker" Smalley remember when things were different. Not better, because of course India had to be handed over to the Indians, it's just that one was born at the wrong time, too young to retire, too old to go "home" to England and start something new, especially since the trip home would cost most of one's savings and the old pension wouldn't be enough to live on. So, one stayed on and made do, and remembered the proper way to do things while enjoying, or pretending to enjoy, the new ways things were done. In fact, one remembered that the "proper ways" usually left one out in the cold, snubbed, at the bottom of the social hierarchy that was so strict in British India. Now, one was thrust in among the new Indian middle classes while keeping, on form alone, some connection to the Indian higher classes that came from new money, black market money.
Without really thinking about it, one's true friends had become a most peculiar assortment of people from varying classes, divided by community stature, wealth, poverty, religion, employment, history, and interests, and often united only by a common friendship with one's self. Extraordinary, really. Better not to think about it, just to press on and have another drink and walk the blasted dog and rage about whatever seems to be most annoying this particular day. At least, Tusker would rage, but never Lucy, though she was built of stern stuff, just on a tiny frame and hidden by a graciousness that was not apparent 30 years ago, in the company of women who constantly snubbed her because she had once had to work for a living. No, in those days she seemed timid, compliant and always to be saying the wrong thing.
This book plays no favorites. People are shown to be who they are, and they are individuals who may be Christian, Muslim, Hindu or Sikh. They are imperfect, some more so than others. The humor arises from their interactions with each other, their private thoughts, the poor versions of each others' languages they speak and the miscommunications that result, the great miscommunications between husband and wife that cannot be blamed on language barriers, as well as the almost telepathic communication between people who have known each other for 30 or more years, even if they don't speak each others' languages at all well. Sometimes it is enough to marvel at the sound of a new English word added to one's vocabulary, and to attempt to tease out its meaning from the context. Sometimes it is enough to delight in the hard and skillful work of a young orphan who tends a garden and has taken it upon himself also to tend the old graveyard next to St. John's, the graveyard where old Mabel Layton was the last person to be buried according to Mr. Maybrick's history of the town. Well, he's got that wrong, too. Maybrick was the last person buried there. And so it goes...
Staying On is the story of Lucy and Tusker Smalley, who chose to stay on in India after Independence, rather than return to England. This couple made brief appearances in the Raj Quartet, principally Lucy, who (poor dear) wound up as being the secretary to almost all of the women's committees during World War II. The Tuskers are back in Pankot, and Lucy is Not Happy. Tusker, her husband, cannot communicate and tells her little if anything about their finances. On top of that, they are residents in The Lodge, an adjunct to the Smith Hotel -- which is now in fierce competition with the Shiraz Hotel, a new and very modern hotel owned and run by Mrs. Lila Bhoolabhoy, who is a hoot and a half.
Unlike the Raj Quartet, Staying On is far more humorous, yet one finds oneself still invested in Tusker and Lucy, as "small" in Staying On as their appearances were in Raj Quartet. Scott's skill in handling characters makes our investment inevitable, but he does it so pleasantly that one doesn't feel as if being unwillingly dragged along behind a dray cart.
Any more detail than this would, I feel, spoil the reading experience for others, so I will leave it to others to make these wonderful discoveries on their own.
I highly recommend this book and it is tucked into my library under Books To Be Reread Over and Over.