"Staying On" by Paul Scott - A Brief Review, Published by Heinemann, 1977

staying on.jpg

A beautiful book about the end of things: The Raj in India, a volunteer’s joyful task of preparing the church for services, an old hotel that will be torn down and with it the home of the protagonists, and a life.  Paul Scott is the author of The Raj Quartet, the seminal set of novels about the end of the Raj in India.  In Staying On, he writes about two expats, husband and wife, who chose not to return home in 1947.

As the book opens, Tusker and Lucy Smalley (such Dickensian names) are barely keeping up appearances as the only British in a small Indian hill town in the north.  Though they have friends among the Indians, both middle and servant class, the Smalleys are not willing to completely drop the color bar drawn by the British.  They will never afford to return to England, so they make do, nursing feelings of rage for each other and their circumstances.  In spite of that, the book is charming, often funny. Staying On won the Booker Prize in 1977.

Scott is a masterful story teller and Staying On is the coda for his Raj Quartet.  Available at your library or used book store.

Highly recommended for readers of British/Indian historical fiction.