Staying On by C M Taylor: tackling some big issues with wit and realism

Staying On by CM Taylor

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Duckworth (18 Oct. 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780715653371
  • ISBN-13: 978-0715653371


BLURB A geriatric coming-of-age story …

 Retired expat, TonyMetcalfe, is going through a three-quarter-life crisis. VivaEspaña, his bar in a mountain village beyond Spain s Costa Blanca, is failing. Tony started the bar for the English post-war babies who retired early on  good pensions- the por favors, as the Spanish call them – flocking to the dream ofwine, 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 wants to move back to enjoy the remainder of his life in his childhood home, but his tenacious wife Laney wants to stay in the happy valley and forget about England and the dark, unresolved feelings it provokes in their marriage. Sod it – he couldn t go home even if he tried; nobody would buy an ailing bar during a recession.

 But Tony s luck is about to change when his son Nick arrives for a surprise visit with his self-possessed wife,Jo, and their son. With the extra help, Tony thinks things are on the up, but Jo has brought along more baggage than just their family s suitcases.

Staying On is a compelling story of little and greater family secrets come to light and what it means to find home, wherever you are.

My review

As an expat myself, although not in Spain, I’m always interested in reading books, both fiction and non-fiction, about other such experiences. This one bringing in Brexit and all its ensuing insanity was not to be missed.

 I was immediately taken by the realisticapproach of this book. Too many people imagine life as an expat is all about sitting around a pool and sipping wine. That’s far from the truth. Most expats struggle to make a living even though they work long hours seven-day weeks.This takes its toll, and it certainly has on Tony, if not quite so much on his wife Laney.

 The writing is down to earth, with lots of sharpwit and humour, but the author doesn’t shy away from unpleasant truths and there’s plenty of tension and anxiety too. Our main characters are equally down to earth and non-pretentious, although they have few hidden secrets between them.

 There are some big issues in this book, thatare deftly handled. What do you do when, as a couple, you want different things? What do you do when you’re faced with the fallout of political shenanigans way beyond your control? What do you do when your past comes back to haunt you?

 Very entertaining, this is a book that will absorb you completely.  


Writing as C MTaylor, Craig is the author of the cult Kev King novels described as‘Brilliant’ by The Sun, and ‘Horribly entertaining’ by The Mirror, which have been optioned for TV.

He’s been nominated for the British Science Fiction book of the year, and edits fiction for a well-known publisher. Craig co-wrote the thriller, Writers Retreat, which was filmed in 2014 and premiered at the Sitges International Film Festival.

Craig is an Associate Lecturer at the Oxford International Centre for Publishing, and has taught widely, often on the underlying structures of narrative, and on Born Digital Literature, a particular enthusiasm that has seen him crowdfund a literary app, as well as instigate an experiment in digital literature with the British Library.

Craig lives in Oxford where he canoes, runs and hangs out with his kids.

Twitter @CMTaylorStory

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