Is this Booker standard? Paul Scott – Staying On


Tusker and Lucy Smalley stayed on in India after it was decolonised in 1947, it is now the 1970s and they have retired in a small hill town called Pankot.  The story deals with ageing, loneliness, race and relationships.

The book dramatically opens with Tusker dropping dead after reading a letter from the hideous Mrs Bhooolabhoy who owns the hotel in which their lodge is situated.  The  book then goes back to when the  Smalleys met and Tusker’s unsuccessful career in the army in India.   Lucy begins to realise  she  and Tucker lead separate lives, and she thinks back over the disappointments of  the last 40 years.   They are seen to be small fish and unambitious, who are looked down upon  both by the British elite and the new Indian capitalists.

There were parts of this book that I really enjoyed and it is quite emotive,  but after a dramatic start I  lost some interest.  Is it a worthy Booker winner or just that it was felt that Scott deserved to have a turn winning it, especially as he was terminally ill?


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