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Staying On

(The Raj Quartet #5)

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  3,474 ratings  ·  194 reviews
Tusker and Lucy 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 Pankot, 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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C.E. Crowder Not required at all. The Raj is a fantastic series and informs the background (the Smalleys have cameos), but Staying On has its own tone and flavour …moreNot required at all. The Raj is a fantastic series and informs the background (the Smalleys have cameos), but Staying On has its own tone and flavour of storytelling that sets it apart, and the story is entirely independent.(less)
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Diane Barnes
Apr 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Not officially part of the Raj Quartet, this book took place 25 years after the ending of the last book, A Division of the Spoils. Now 1972, The Smalleys have "stayed on" in India after independence, for several different reasons. We do learn a little of what happened to some of the characters in the previous books, other things are left to our imagination.

This book won the Booker Prize, and is more the story of a 42 year old marriage between Tucker and Lucy Smalley. Much shorter than any of the
I presumed, incorrectly, that this book would be about individuals who had come to love India and for this reason didn't want to return to Britain when India was given independence. I mistakenly guessed that India and Indians had become dear to them, a place and a people they couldn’t bear to part with, and so they simply couldn't leave. Once I realized my error, I had to readjust all that I had expected to draw from the book.

This book is about individuals who are British through and through. T
Life is a helluva thing. You can see trouble coming and you can't do a damn thing to prevent it coming. You just got to sit and watch and wait.”― V.S.Naipaul, Miguel Street.

The rapidly declining lives of the two main characters in Staying On is pretty much the encapsulation of the above quote by Naipaul.

Reading this novel was like getting scraped by needles across dormant wounds. Not literally of course. But the plight of Tusker and Lily Smalley, a British army couple who decide to stay back
Staying On is Paul Scott’s follow-up to the Raj Quartet. Tusker and Lucy Smalley have elected to stay behind after the British Raj is disassembled and Scott picks up their story in 1972, when they are living in the lodge of the Smith hotel, without any other British citizens around them. They have a loyal servant, Ibrahim, who treats them much as they were treated when they were members of the Raj, and is probably the main reason they can still navigate life in India.

I would say this is a study
I really enjoyed this 1970s-era Man Booker Prize winner. It's a small story, but one that has been written to perfectly capture the time, the place and the circumstances of Tusker and Lucy Smalley; here an elderly couple, but previously younger minor characters in Paul Scott's Raj Quartet novels. Staying On is like a sequel to the Quartet, but it stands very happily on its own. And it's really quite funny, but with some sad, tender moments.

We meet the Smalleys when they have already been married
Feb 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a good ending to the Raj Quartet. But be warned. The ending is very sad.
Apr 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audio, overdrive
I haven’t read anything else by this author. I decided to start with this book because it’s a lot shorter than the Raj Quartet and I wanted to know whether I liked the author’s writing style before I tackled his other books. Also, this one won the Booker Prize. Booker Prize winners usually aren’t this much fun.

The English couple Tusker and Lily Smalley have been married for a long time. They decided to stay on in India after Tusker retired. They rent a home from Mr. and Mrs Bhoolabhoy (a very o
Oct 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I'm still working my way through the list of Booker winners, and this one is the best I have read for some time. It is a poignant, tragicomic portrait of an ageing couple of British colonial functionaries effectively stranded in an old Indian hill station after "staying on" at independence. It mixes vibrant descriptions and comic set pieces with reflections on the legacy of the Raj and the nature of independent India. ...more
Courtney H.
Mar 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bookers
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
John Anthony
Jan 11, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
S...O… in India after the Raj are Col Tusker Smalley and his wife Lucy. Their circumstances are straightened after 40 years of marriage. The likes of the Smalleys are the backbone of the British Empire; they are professional “also rans”. But this lack of ambition is perfected to an art form. (They are aptly named: Lucy's maiden name is Little). It is contrasted with the vulgar, thrusting ambitions of the Indian nouveu riche who pick up the mantle left by the Imperial rulers, aping many of the Br ...more
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Funny, touching, sad. Very nice additional story in the setting of the The Raj Quartet. ...more
Dec 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
A poignant, sad and in places funny novel. Tusker and Lucy Smalley have stayed on in India after 1947 when India became independent. They were to poor to return to England and so stayed on in India surviving on Tuskers army pension.

The story chronicles their life after Tusker has a massive stroke after receiving a letter from the owner of the hotel they live. Lucy reminisces her life, the courtship by Tusker of her in England, her time in India and the hierarchical caste system the British had
Jul 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tusker and Lucy Smalley were throwaway characters in later volumes of the Paul Scott’s Raj Quartet and probably many who loved the series would not be satisfied to switch their attention from the epic nature of that tour de force to the more domestic—if not necessarily quiet—atmosphere of Staying On. All I can say to that is, this little drama still has much to commend it.

For starters, we come to know and understand Tusker and Lucy, (especially Lucy) their personalities, relationships with each
Kressel Housman
To explain this book, I’m going to quote something I heard in a movie review (on Pop Culture Happy Hour) for a work completely unconnected with this one: your parents’ marriage does not settle into simplicity. That observation was made regarding the movie “45 Years,” which is about an aging couple, but it’s just as fitting for this book, which is also about an aging couple. Tusker and Lucy Smalley were minor characters in The Raj Quartet, but unlike most Brits, they stayed on in India after Inde ...more
Apr 20, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary
This was a re-read for me of a book I read quite a few years ago now because it is a sequel to Paul Scott’s The Raj Quartet series of novels that I really loved when I read them.    The Raj Quartet was televised as The Jewel in the Crown in 1984, introducing a number of actors who subsequently went on to great things, such as Tim Piggott-Smith, Geraldine James and Art Malik.  Staying On was also adapted for television in 1980, starring the wonderful Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson.

Goodreads tell
Roger Brunyate
Jun 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
A Wry Sequel

In calling Staying On a sequel, I am not referring primarily to Paul Scott's celebrated Raj Quartet ; this little postlude is softer in tone, and although sharing some characters, it stands entirely on its own. But it is a sequel to several centuries of British life in India, and to two of those lives in particular: Col. Tusker Smalley and his wife Lucy. The novel opens with Tusker's death in 1972, 25 years after India gained independence. Remaining after others have left, he and
Gary Butler
Mar 22, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
6th book read in 2018.

Number 483 out of 666 on my all time book list.

Interesting look at something I never knew about. Character interactions are great, but inner dialog because a bore.
James Murphy
Jan 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
This novel operates at a lot of different levels. It is multi-layered, rich. The current plot is intricate and woven together with a back story that has the feel of someone looking back, reflecting, digesting. Tusker and Lucy are a couple in the final stages in life with all of the baggage and ruts that can come with a long marriage. But there is love there, somewhere, some type. There is also love of place, India, but is it love of British India, before the Raj, or of current day India or some ...more
Jul 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: modern-fiction
They list this book here as part of the Raj Quartet, but I think that is an error. You do not have to have read any of the Raj Quartet to enjoy this stand-alone book.

This is the second time I read this. It must be at least 30 years since I first did, and I received a shock when I realized how superb it is. A good deal of it had me laughing, but it is
much more than amusing. Some of this is because I am now even older than Lucy (I am 78) and I understand aging and trying to hold on. It is the sto
Roger Pettit
Jun 03, 2012 rated it it was ok
"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
Jan 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: next-favourites
I ran out of books to read while on holiday in Goa and this was one of the few english titles on a shelf of books left behind by previous guests. Had no expectation whatsoever and I 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 a rambling uneventful tale about an old couple who decide to "stay on" in India post-Empire however if you have spare time on your hands it is an affectionate portra ...more
Dec 04, 2017 rated it liked it
I read this book as part of a GR group dedicated to reading award-winning fiction. I did not realize that this was a sequel to a quartet when I started it. Although this is a stand-alone novel, I felt as if I was walking in on the tail end of a conversation. Set in the early 1970s in a small Indian town that had once been an outpost for British civil servants in the colonial era, it focuses on a retired couple who chose to stay in India after Independence, but continued to live as colonial Brits ...more
Tariq Mahmood
Apr 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: british, india, history
The book gets better and better as it progresses slowly through a week in the life of the two main characters. The characters present various analogies with a bankrupt and weakened Raj. What didn't surprise me was the respect locals still had for their once masters 30 odd years after the Independence. Even now most people of Indian subcontinent speak favorably of the British Raj. I think the main reason is their superior sense of justice. Even if the British were also elitist but their implement ...more
Renita D'Silva
Dec 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Just wonderful
Feb 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Staying On by Paul Scott
If not marvelous, at least a very good read

After a trip to Central America, in the company of Holliwell and his buddies from A Flag for sunrise, by the fabulous Robert Stone, here I am, taking another ride, into post imperial India, with Lilly, Tusker and a few more charming characters.
Staying On does not have an exciting plot to keep me hooked and at times I did wonder why I am reading this.
But the author is an excellent writer and kept this reader going in spite of his
Manik Sukoco
Jul 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
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 Bhoolabh ...more
Jul 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Lukrezia Cosimo
Sep 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: india
I loved this book, not just because it's about India and the British connection with India. The way Paul Scott paints his main characters, Tusker and Lucy, shows such sensitivity and such humanity. The minor characters are well-drawn too, particularly Ibrahim, the servant, always being sacked only to be reinstated a few hours later, the impossible Mrs. Bhoolabhoy and her weak husband, and the Anglo-Indian, Susie. There's a lot of humour, and Scott manages to convey so many subtleties about the d ...more
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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.

Other books in the series

The Raj Quartet (5 books)
  • The Jewel in the Crown
  • The Day of the Scorpion
  • The Towers of Silence
  • A Division of the Spoils

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“I remember one party when we seemed to be absolutely stranded. Perhaps that was symbolic, Mr Turner. I mean everyone else gone and just Tusker and me, peering out into the dark waiting for transport that never turned up.” 0 likes
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