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This review is from: Staying On (Paperback)
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 almost have been extracted from a saucy sea-side postcard the fifties. Then he has Tusker and Lucy Smalley - and Lucy has certainly ‘stayed on’ as far as their marriage is concerned. The book describes the disappointments and disillusionments of a couple who have spent forty years together and who are now aware of the lack of success of their lives. Lucy has elaborate strategies to deal with her husband’s eccentricities, and though eventually, they seem to love one another, for the most part, they seem to be living in a state of war, a situation which may be familiar to long married couples.
It is on balance, a sad book, but with some laugh out loud scenes - and one which causes you to care about some of the main characters, while thoroughly disliking others.