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Staying On

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  2,195 ratings  ·  89 reviews
Tusker and Lily Smalley stayed on in India. Given the chance to return 'home' when Tusker, once a Colonel in the British Army, retired, they chose instead to remain in the small hill town of Pangkot, with its eccentric inhabitants and archaic rituals left over from the days of the Empire. Only the tyranny of their landlady, the imposing Mrs Bhoolabhoy, threatens to upset t ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published September 2nd 1999 by Arrow (first published January 1st 1977)
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Life of Pi by Yann MartelThe God of Small Things by Arundhati RoyThe Remains of the Day by Kazuo IshiguroThe Blind Assassin by Margaret AtwoodMidnight's Children by Salman Rushdie
Booker Prize Winners
36th out of 49 books — 1,416 voters
A Fine Balance by Rohinton MistryThe Namesake by Jhumpa LahiriThe God of Small Things by Arundhati RoyThe White Tiger by Aravind AdigaInterpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
India: Fiction
30th out of 189 books — 199 voters

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Community Reviews

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Courtney H.
Memo to Kingsley Amis: This is how you write a book about aging that is comic, eccentric, and touching without looking like you’re trying too hard. Plus, the cover of my copy has an awesome reference to: “Now a Major Grenada TV Drama” (sadly, the publication company is Grenada so it refers to that, not to the country of Grenada, but still). I was surprised by how much I liked this book. It takes place in post-independence India and centers largely on the twilight of two expatriots, Tusker and Lu ...more
Kiera Healy
I'm surprised by the relatively low rating of this novel, as it's the best book I've read in a while. It tells the story of Tusker and Lucy Smalley, an impoverished, retired colonel and his wife, who have stayed on in India after the end of the Raj, and now find themselves the only white people in their locale. As Tusker's health worsens, Lucy must confront her thoughts about widowhood in independent India. There's also a small cast of Indian characters, including their servant Ibrahim, and the ...more
James Murphy
I've known about Staying On for a long time. I'd had it recommended to me more than once. The copy I've finally read and finished today was given to me. I'm grateful for everyone's insistence and for the gift because now I, too, have discovered what a warm, touching, yet powerful novel it is.

Following India's independence, Tusker, a colonel in the British army, retired. He and his wife, Lucy, decided to stay in India rather than return to England. Their decision--his, really--was largely economi
mark monday
Staying On won the Booker Prize but I just don't get why it got the prize instead of any of the books within the The Raj Quartet. it is basically an addendum to that amazing piece of literature. still, a nice addendum.
Ran out of books to read on a Goa holiday and this was one of the few english titles on a shelf of books left behind by previous guests. Had no expectation whatsoever and loved it. Slight but well-written, the two main characters superbly voiced, no gimmicks or twists. Can't think of anyone I know who would choose to read such a rambling uneventful tale about an old couple who decide to stay on in India post-Empire but if you have spare time on your hands it is a faultless portrait of a colonial ...more
Roger Pettit
"Staying On" by Paul Scott was published in 1977. It won what is still the most prestigious prize for fiction-writing in the UK - then known simply as The Booker Prize, now known as The Man Booker Prize - and the dust jacket of the edition that I have just read is replete with praise from such literary luminaries as poet Philip Larkin. I regret to say that I simply fail to see what all the fuss is about. "Staying On" is just about OK, but is really no better than that. Given its reputation, it i ...more
I went to a marvelous English Literature course run by Anne Scott, lecturer at Glasgow University, Scotland. At the end, one of the other students, who was moving house, was giving away some of her books. Just what I needed - more books! I could not resist, and this was one of the books I chose. I had read The Raj Quartet by Paul Scott many years ago, so when I saw his book Staying On, I thought I would enjoy it. I was right.

Paul Scott was born in London, England in 1920. He died in 1978. Scott
When Tusker Smalley died of a massive coronary at approximately 9.30 a.m. on the last Monday in April, 1972, his wife Lucy was out, having her white hair blue-rinsed and set in the Seraglio Room on the ground floor of Pankot's new five storey glass and concrete hotel, The Shiraz.

These are the opening lines of Paul Scott's sequel to The Raj Quartet, which, having just so enjoyed reading about the end of Tusker and Lucy's life together, I will have to read to learn about their earlier days. Stayin
Sean Madden
It’s been nearly a decade since I read Paul Scott’s The Raj Quartet. I read the first two novels in Beate Ruhm von Oppen’s preceptorial at St. John’s College, Annapolis during the final semester of my first M.A. program. Before finishing the program in December 2003, I also bought the remaining two novels as well as Scott’s Booker Prize-winning coda to The Raj Quartet, Staying On.

I took these books with me when I moved that Christmas to England. With the momentum of The Jewel in the Crown and Th
Jacquelynn Luben
Staying On is ostensibly a novel about India after 1947, when many of the English people who were running things, before India gained independence, have returned home. But actually, to a great extent, it’s simply about people and the way they behave towards one another, including the way the various ethnic groups look upon each other.

Paul Scott’s characters are both comic and tragic - he has the horrendous and tyrannical Mrs Bhoolaboy and her meek husband, exaggerated caricatures, who could almo
After finishing the author's Raj Quartet series, I decided to read this epilogue/continuation to the story, although it isn't necessary, and doesn't really tie up any loose ends or answer any lingering questions left at the end of the Quartet. "Tusker" and Lucy Smalley, who are minor characters in the Quartet, are basically the last of the old British Raj, staying on after everyone else has gone. The novel begins with Tusker's sudden death, but then circles back around to how the Smalleys found ...more
The theme of this book reminded me a lot of the movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. A British retiree couple lives in India to save costs and because they love it. The cultural differences separating them from their surroundings provides for some comic relief. That’s it. Simple, straightforward.
Alex Rendall
I feel as though I’ve written a lot of reviews of novels that discuss the legacy of colonialism and quite a few reviews of novels about India. Paul Scott’s Staying On combines the two, taking as its subject the elderly Smalleys, Tusker and Lucy, and describing their lives as the last British settlers who have ‘stayed on’ in Pankot, a fictional small town in India, post-independence.

Staying On is full of dark humour, laughing at the ridiculousness of the Smalleys while also painting a poignant p
J Dalton

Comedy and tragedy have always been the closest of relations, and this novel epitomises their kinship. Full of black humour, it is one of the saddest novels – if not the saddest – I have ever read.

Lucy and Tusker Smalley stayed on in India after the country gained its independence in 1947, not through her choosing but his. She, significantly, learnt where she was to spend the rest of her life only when it was too late - after her husband had made the life-
Staying On is a novel which is at times very funny, but ultimately it's very sad. Tusker and Lucy are an English couple who remained in India after the country becomes independent in 1947. The book is set in 1972, ostensibly on one day, but the story of their entire courtship and life together, especially the last few months, unfolds. Tusker, who has ruled the household roost, is unwell. Lucy is afraid he might die, and then what will become of her? She has no real idea of their financial situat ...more
Staying On, Paul Scott's last novel, was published in 1977 after the novels that made up The Raj Quartet and just before he was diagnosed with colon cancer, which would claim his life the following year. It is set in the small Indian hill town of Pangkot in 1972, where Colonel Tusker and Lucy Smalley, the town's only remaining British residents, live in an annex of a colonial hotel managed by Francis Bhoolabhoy, a thin and meek practicing Christian who shares drinks and stories with the Colonel, ...more
Staying On. NOT a thing like Saville. This was one of the first Bookers that I found completely accessible. I found the characters really endearing. I was often so engaged in Tusker and Luce's arguments and squabbles, that I would forget that eventually the inevitable would happen. We know what is going to happen to Tusker before we know Tusker.

Unlike Heat and Dust (remember that one? No? The "Coldplay of the Booker Prize?"), I feel like there is somehow more respect or identity of the Indian ch
I found the four books of the Raj Quartet uneven, to say the least. For me, they followed the inverse rule of the Star Trek movies - the odd-numbered volumes were brilliant, but the even-numbered ones were slow and ponderous. The final book, volume 4, was particularly a drag, and I ended the series with a heavy feeling of disappointment. Thus, what a delight to find this engaging and humane coda to the series. Taking place 25 years after the end of the Raj, Scott wisely focuses on a just a few c ...more
David Sinck
Comic and moving, this tale of two Colonials "left behind" when the English left India tackles many of the themes of the "Raj Quartet" in three fewer books and a lot less pages. Smalley, a Colonel (retired) in the British Army loves his wife but can't quite tell her, other than in a letter right at the end of their lives. His wife, Lucy, loves him too but dreams constantly of her first love, whilst holding make-believe conversations with (inter alia) visitors from Britain. There's a cast of supp ...more
Margaret Sankey
Last seen as minor characters in the Raj Quartet, Col. Tusker and Lucy Smalley stayed on in India after 1947, living on a dwindling pension in genteel poverty, well aware that prosperity in England prices them out of ever returning to live in the style to which 40 years in India accustomed them. On the part of the local Indians, the Smalleys are amusing and obtuse relics, tolerated out of affection for their own former positions in the Raj and the respect accorded crazy old people with just enou ...more
A touching story covering the last month or so in the life of one of the ex-English officers (retired) who decide to stay on in India rather then to return to England. Tusker is not ageing gracefully and is aware of his mortality. Lucy regrets being his faithful wife and worries about the finances post Tusker. Tusker's closest friend Mr Bhoolabhoy, who runs the dilapidated hotel Tusker lives at, is hen pecked and dominated by his large, angry and ambitious wife.

Mr Bhoolabhoy and Lucy have simila
Les Dangerfield
I liked the Raj Quartet a lot when I read it about thirty years ago, but this, despite being his Booker prize winner, disappointed me. The characters are stereotypes and I just didn't get involved in the storyline.
Nils Ragnar
Sjarmerende om et britisk offiserektepar som blir værende i India etter frigjøringen og som pensjonister, til slutt som de eneste britene på det lille stedet hvor de bor.
Samantha Marshall
I would probably give this 3.5 stars if I could. Staying On is Scott's award winner and continues with the lives of a British couple first me in the Raj Quartet, who chose to stay on in India after British Independence. The book takes place in the 70s after they have stayed on in India for some time. Either Scott or his characters are a little more bitter, biased and disappointed than they had seemed in the Quartet. I am not certain whether Scott is less generous or whether he is trying to portr ...more
Kathleen Hagen
Staying On, by Paul Scott, narrated by Paul Shelley, produced by Audiogo ltd., downloaded from

This is the sequel to the Raj Quartet and deals with the desolate lives of the English people who remained in India after the British handed the country over to its own government. Their lives seemed very sad to me. They were no longer in a power position, but were unwilling to accept the rising Indian middle class. They had little money and lived on the edge of poverty, but they couldn’t a
So Paul Scott took the least likeable characters from the Raj Quartet (the simpering Smalleys) and featured them, still tottering around India in their 70s, as the main characters in Staying On. Now I hate reading about old people as much as the next girl, but somehow Scott made their daily trials interesting and their personalities appealing. Scott also seems to have finally let his hair down in this book--there's a whole lot more sweaty, flatulent sex and swearing than the earlier books. So al ...more
Helen Kitson
Jun 27, 2012 Helen Kitson added it
Shelves: fiction
A novel about an elderly couple who decided to stay on in India after that country became independent in 1947 and the Raj ended. It's an interesting (and sometimes gently humorous) tale of how two British people cope with life in the new India, but it struck me mostly as being a story about old age, and long marriage, and the fear of being left alone (in poverty) when one spouse dies. The cover blurb describes it as a 'joyful' book, but when I finished it my overwhelming feeling was one of sadne ...more
I love novels that start at the end and then reveal the story. Very entertaining read. Reminds me a bit of Passage to India but funnier.
Look at the life and marriage for a retired British officer and his wife in post colonial India.
Aug 02, 2007 Christine rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: if you want to know what happens after the Raj Quartet ends
There is a cursory mention of what happened to Sarah Layton and Guy.

But Staying On is sad: it's about an aging couple who felt they couldn't go back to England b/c he's too old to get work there, and his pension would be worth more in India, and the opening of the book is how he's had a heart attack, with the rest of the book leading up to that moment. So I felt kind of sad- they're not very well off, they're not respected anymore since obviously the British have left India, and it's hard to vis
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

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.
More about Paul Scott...
The Jewel in the Crown (The Raj Quartet, #1) The Day of the Scorpion (The Raj Quartet, #2) The Towers of Silence (The Raj Quartet, #3) A Division of the Spoils (The Raj Quartet, #4) The Raj Quartet

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