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Staying On (1977)

af Paul Scott

Serier: The Raj Quartet (coda)

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
7551821,961 (3.71)115
"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 the quiet rhythm of their days. Both funny and deeply moving, Staying On is a unique, engrossing portrait of the end of an empire and of a forty-year love affair.… (mere)
Nyligt tilføjet afprivat bibliotek, qndeng2, simplynewton, naoph, loretteirene, AR_bookbird, stephkaye, dlduncan, lydiasbooks
Efterladte bibliotekerBarbara Pym, Graham Greene
  1. 00
    Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont af Elizabeth Taylor (KayCliff)
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    At the Jerusalem af Paul Bailey (KayCliff)
  3. 00
    The Jewel in the Crown af Paul Scott (Cecrow)
    Cecrow: Staying On (a fine dessert) is so much more rewarding if you approach it the long way around, via the Raj Quartet (four-course meal).
  4. 00
    Indiske dage af E. M. Forster (KayCliff)
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Viser 1-5 af 18 (næste | vis alle)
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 mixture of the two? Does Lucy miss the British India that she seemingly so hated, the restrictions it placed on her? Has she taken on these cultural norms as her own? Tusker, the administrative genius, ultimately caught not paying attention to the details, which is just one of many signals that life is coming to an end. Lucy is still open to the possibilities that life presents. A most curious couple that grew up in one world but must deal daily in a world that operates by very different rules.

This was my first by Paul Scott. I enjoyed it thoroughly. I admire Paul Scott’s talent, which seems to go far beyond just telling a good story. It is a quiet story, which I like. Some will feel not a lot happens, but much of what happens is subtle. ( )
  afkendrick | Oct 24, 2020 |
Staying On focuses on Tusker and Lucy Smalley, who are briefly mentioned in the latter two books of the Raj Quartet, The Towers of Silence and A Division of the Spoils, and are the last British couple living in the small hill town of Pankot after Indian independence. Tusker had risen to the rank of colonel in the British Indian Army, but on his retirement had entered the world of commerce as a 'box wallah', and the couple had moved elsewhere in India. However, they had returned to Pankot to take up residence in the Lodge, an annexe to Smith's Hotel. This, formerly the town's principal hotel, was now symbolically overshadowed by the brash new Shiraz Hotel, erected by a consortium of Indian businessmen from the nearby city of Ranpur.
We learn about life as an expat in Pankot principally by listening to Lucy's ponderings, for it is she who is the loquacious one, in contrast to Tusker's pathological reticence. He talks in clipped verbless telegraphese, often limiting his utterances to a single "Ha!". He has been purposeless since being obliged to retire, and it is left to Lucy to make sense of the world herself. It is a sad story of frustration that she recounts to herself. She remembers how the young Captain Smalley came back to London on leave in 1930, visited his bank, where she, a vicar's daughter, worked, and tentatively asked her out. She was swept off her feet by the thought of marrying an army officer and dreamt of a glamorous wedding with his fellow officers making an arch with their swords, but life turned out very differently. His job was dull administration, and his early attentiveness in bed rapidly waned. He prohibited her from fulfilling herself by taking part in amateur dramatics. Not only this, but she ranked fairly low in the social pecking order among the white women in Pankot and suffered numerous indignities. A symbol of this retrospection is that their preferred conveyance is the Tonga, a horse-drawn carriage in which they choose to sit facing backwards, "looking back at what we're leaving behind".
It falls to Lucy to navigate a path between her husband's obstinacy and obtuseness and the increasingly pressing demands of India's slow transition to modernity. The question of who pays the gardener, for example, requires the skilful management of human relationships. She also tries to maintain some continuity in her life, through correspondence with her old acquaintances (characters in the Raj Quartet), such as Sarah Layton (now Sarah Perron), who have moved back to England. It is through a letter from Sarah Perron that romantic fans of the Raj Quartet learn that she did indeed meet Guy again, and they are living happily ever after with their two boys, Lance and Perceval.
It is clear she blames Tusker for insisting on 'staying on'—at one point they could have retired comfortably to England, but he has been reckless ("nothing goes quicker than hundred rupee notes"), and now she has no idea if they could afford it. She entreats him to tell her how she would stand financially if he were to die. At long last, he writes her a letter, setting out their finances and also remarking that she had been "a good woman" to him. But he also tells her not to ask him about it, as he is incapable of discussing it face to face: "If you do I'll only say something that will hurt you". Nevertheless, she treasures this, the only love letter she has ever received.
Meanwhile, we see the new India that is replacing the British Raj, symbolised by Mrs Lila Bhoolabhoy, the temperamental and overweight owner of Smith's Hotel, and her much put upon husband and hotel manager, who is Tusker's drinking companion. The richly humorous context includes the engagement of servants, the railway service, poached eggs, hairdressing and the church organ. There is an intimate relationship between the Smalleys' servant Ibrahim and Mrs Bhoolabhoy's maid Minnie.
Mrs Bhoolabhoy's greed induces her to trade her ownership of the now shabby Smith's hotel for a share in the competing consortium. She instructs Mr Bhoolabhoy to issue the Smalleys with a notice to quit the Lodge.
On receipt of this letter, Tusker flies into an impotent rage and drops dead of a heart attack. Lucy is downcast and puts on a brave face as she prepares for the funeral and a solitary life. But, at last, she would potentially be free to return to England, perhaps able to scrape by on her £1,500 a year. She is a survivor, because she can adapt, as is shown by the fact that, on the day of Tusker's death, she was about to break a previously upheld taboo and welcome her hairdresser, Susy, who is of mixed race, to dinner. In her imagination, she asks Tusker one last thing – to take her with him, for if she had been a good woman to him, as he wrote, why has he now gone home without her?
Both funny and deeply moving, Staying On is a unique, engrossing portrait of the end of an empire and of a forty-year love affair. ( )
  PaulavanWijmen | Oct 15, 2017 |
A coda to the "Raj Quartet". The Smalleys have stayed on after independence, and slowly endured a life of diminishing returns as the old colonial society departs, money is frittered away, aging sets in.
Written with more evident humour than the quartet, the story nonetheless charts a poignant and sad decline for an elderly couple, out of place and out of time.
What a pity that Paul Scott passed away so early. He was the finest of story-tellers.
  ivanfranko | Jan 31, 2017 |
A standalone novel but truly a sequel to Scott's Raj Quartet, chock full of spoilers from those novels and with teasing glimpses of what happened to some of its characters. Colonel Smalley and his wife Lucie figured as minor characters in that saga. Where most of the British opted to return home when India won its independence in 1947, the Smalleys "stayed on" in India and became anomalies in the otherwise Indian society that grew up around them, albeit thick with British legacy.

The Quartet had a fine finish, but you won't want to miss out on this fifth foray like a fine dessert after a four-course meal. It mostly sheds the quartet's complexity, with a focus on far fewer characters and with more comedic flourishes, but it also features Scott's masterful dalliance with chronology and his brilliant shifts among different perspectives. Like some other favourite epics, I've arrived at the very end of this enormous one only feeling regret that there isn't more. ( )
  Cecrow | Jun 22, 2016 |
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. ( )
  bodachliath | Mar 1, 2016 |
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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.
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[Mr Bhoolabhoy] took [the typed letter] to Mrs Bhoolabhoy. After she'd read it she held out her hand. He gave her his Parker 61, then helped to prop her up to sign.
He placed the tray [of coffee] within reach of her left hand. Her right hand never let go of the elegant black and silver ball-point with which she reckoned the totals of bills paid before entering them on the right-hand side of her housekeeping book.
After Easter there was Tusker's birthday. He was 71.... Lucy gave him a card and a Parker ballpoint to go with his Parker pen. She'd ordered it weeks ago from Gulab Singh's, who did clocks, watches and jewellery as well as medicines and toiletries.
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"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 the quiet rhythm of their days. Both funny and deeply moving, Staying On is a unique, engrossing portrait of the end of an empire and of a forty-year love affair.

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