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Staying On

3.9  ·  Rating details ·  2,906 Ratings  ·  141 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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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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Community Reviews

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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
Kiera Healy
Jan 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Jun 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
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
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.
Tariq Mahmood
Apr 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, india, british
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
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
Sean Madden
May 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
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
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.
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
Travis Gomez

"Maybrick was entirely within his rights to say it was Mabel layton, and that it would have been highly macabre for him to have nominated himself, even though he was the last person, and will remain so as there is no more room"

Like the small churchyard in pankot which could no longer accomodate any bodies, so too was the attitude towards the British who decided to stay on after the Raj had faded away. This was Paul Scott's last novel and is chronologically set after the events of the arak Quarte
A solid novel, though entirely forgotten in the four decades since it won the Booker Prize. Funnily enough, it was the third Raj novel in five years to win the prize, the earlier ones being Ruth Prawer Jhabvala's "Heat and Dust" and JG Farrell's "The Siege of Krishnapur". In terms of longevity, I suppose Farrell's novel has proved to be the most enduring of the three, although of course Scott himself wrote that famous quartet which to this day stands as the ultimate literary monument to the Raj. ...more
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
Val Penny
Jun 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 28, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: bookers

The novel opens with the death of Lt. Col. 'Tusker' Smalley (Retd.) in Pankot, India. He and his wife, Lucy, had stayed on after independence and were the last British residents of the small former hill station. The narrative then goes back in time and shows their marriage and their lives before and after independence. Society has changed very little, apart from the fact that the faces are brown and the economy is black (the author's phrase for widespread corruption), and Lucy feels just as
Mar 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Brilliantly written - funny, heartbreaking and delicate in equal measures. The novel tackles the complex issues of race and class struggles in post-colonial India, as well as the broader question of what it means to be "home". It is easily one of the best books I have come across in my 2016 reading spree.

I felt like I was reading a book by Henry James or George Eliot! The novel is a well-deserved Booker Prize winner.
Dec 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.
Jason Fernandes
Jun 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Staying On by Paul Scott is a wonderful little novel, a Booker Prize Winner and, having read Scott’s Raj Quartet, a novel that has changed what I thought of Scott’s writing.

Staying On is, in a way, a sequel to the Raj Quartet. But do you need to read the Raj Quartet first? It’s a difficult question to answer. Staying On takes place in the same location, Pankot, where some significant parts of the Raj Quartet take place and includes references to key locations within the town that readers of the
Oct 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
An enjoyable, interesting read about an old English couple, the Smalley's, who decided to stay in India after 1947 rather than return to England. Their decision is based on enjoying the higher living standard in India as compared to England at that time. They also didn't have children and both were not close to the little family they had in England. When they returned to England in 1950 for a visit, they learned how hard life was in England. (In 1950 there was food rationing with meat and bacon ...more
Sarah Clark
This humorous book interweaves the stories of a cast of characters in post-colonial India. This book didn't suck me in, meaning I had no problem putting the book down and going to sleep at a reasonable hour. However, Scott painted such vivid portraits of the characters that I'd find myself thinking about them often, excited for my next opportunity to get back to the story and learn more about them.

The book primarily focuses on a British couple, Lucy and Tusker, who have chosen to stay on in Ind
May 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Sad, funny and gently sentimental: this is a novel that explores the purpose of love, career and ambition when one's circumstances are irrevocably changed. 'Tusker' and Lucy are an elderly British couple who 'stay on' in India after independence, and the majority of the story focuses on how they make sense of their twilight years living in a country that no longer seems to need, want or even recognize them. Also, Mr and Mrs. Bhoolabhoy own the property that the Smalley's rent, and their own humo ...more
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  • Saville
  • Something to Answer For
  • Holiday
  • The Elected Member
  • The Old Devils
  • The Conservationist
  • Rites of Passage (To the Ends of the Earth, #1)
  • Offshore
  • In a Free State
  • G.
  • How Late it Was, How Late
  • Heat and Dust
  • The Siege of Krishnapur
  • Sacred Hunger
  • Moon Tiger
  • Last Orders
  • Hotel du Lac
  • The Famished Road
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...

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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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