My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Time taken to read - in and out over 2 days
Pages - 304
Publisher - Duckworth Overlook
Source - Review copy
Blurb from Goodreads
Staying On is a geriatric coming-of-age story and a comedy-drama about an expat family played out between a working patriarch and his charming, self-possessed daughter-in-law. Tony Metcalfe, a seventy-year-old Yorkshireman and his wife Laney run Viva Espagne, a bar in a small village in the mountains beyond the Costa Blanca. Set amongst the bawdy working class expats of Spain - the por favors as the Spanish call them - the monoglot, post-war babies who retired early on good pensions, flocking to the dream of wine and rest and sun around the pool. But now their retirement paradise is shadowed by Brexit: the pound has fallen, pensions are frozen and the property crash happened long ago. Tony dreams of moving back to enjoy the remainder of his life in his childhood home, but Laney wants to stay in the happy valley and forget about England and the dark, unresolved feelings it provokes in their marriage. Tony loves his wife and keeps his dreams to himself along with the fact that Viva is losing money. He couldn't go home even if he tried - nobody would buy an ailing bar in a recession. Tony's only chance of getting home lies in puncturing the silence and blame in his marriage, and turning his bar to profit to sell. This looks impossible for passive, amiable Tony until his only son Nick arrives for an unexpectedly long stay, bringing his young wife Jo and son Fred in tow. Their arrival signals a new chapter in Tony's life, but will it be one in which his dreams are finally realised?
Meet Tony and Laney Metcalfe, they moved to Spain after retiring and got themselves a wee bar, sun, friends, company - a good life. When Brexit affects the financials Tony sees many of his expat pals moving home, as a Yorkshire man in his seventies he wants to join them. Laney will never agree to it, Tony wants her happy and is keeping their financial woes hidden from her. When his son finally comes to visit with his wife and grandson he may finally have the help needed to save the bar. However Nick never visits, his wife is the driving force with an agenda and soon the Metcalfe will have to face reality, their past and deal with the fallout.
This book has been on my review list for a wee while and I wish I had picked it up sooner. Different from the genres I have been reading the past wee while. I thought this book was going to be deep on politics (Brexit) and I think that is why I put it off a bit longer but actually the Brexit thing comes up very little. The heart of the story is relationships, family, things we avoid or hide from within our family and the impact and consequences it has. From early on there is something that has affected the family, we know this but not exactly what. Laney and Tony's relationship is like many I am sure we can all recognise, he just wants her to be happy and as a consequence often at the expense of his own wants.
I enjoyed the glimpse into life as a retiree abroad, how many folk thing uck just head over, get a bar, drink what I want and mingle with the locals, many am sure. Taylor allows us this but also the flip side of showing just how hard it can actually be and the lengths one may go to to hide that to protect his family. We see love, sacrifice, family secrets, cause and effect, marital difficulties and how important it is to deal with loss/love. There is also banter in the book, I chuckled a few times at some parts. The characters are very true to life, flawed, selfish, loving, sweet, troubled, lazy, hard working, a good mixed bunch and I think that always goes down well as readers like to be able to identify with situations or character traits. The book is a wee bit emotive but filled with so much more, characters annoy you, make you smile, laugh, shake your head and I love when a book does that to you, especially when you aren't expecting it. This was my first dance with this author, I would absolutely read him again, 3.5/5 for me this time.
View all my reviews