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Stealing Water: A Secret Life in an African City Hardcover – 6 Mar 2008
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The greatest memoir to come out of white Africa since Rian Malan's My Traitor's Heart - it reads like Angela's Ashes rewritten by Nick Hornby under a baking Johannesburg sun . . . told with warmth, humanity and humour to burn. (Tony Parsons)
An extraordinary account of childhood in a baroque South Africa, peopled with a vast, positively Dickensian cast of characters - never sentimental, extremely honest and, I found, quite unputdownable. (Emma Thompson)
A truthful story brilliantly told - both funny and moving. I often had to lay the book aside to recover from laughter . . . Tim Ecott cleverly captures the feeling of an extraordinary life. (Lynne Reid Banks)
'Tim Ecott's story of growing up in Ireland and Africa is both haunting and funny. He writes with compassion and honesty to give us a truly memorable account of an extraordinary upbringing.' (Fergal Keane)
Stealing Water is a simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking portrait of poor-white family life in the twilight of apartheid. (Richard E. Grant)
'the narrative crackles and fizzles along.' (Irish Times)
There are belly laughs enough, and some serious criminality to boot, but Ecott's outstanding talent as an author is for pathos. His mother's scorn of logic, fate and the laws of probability, carrying on her shoulders a whole world of worry, debt, misfortune and illness, and all her family's fortunes, moved me more than once to tears. (Sunday Times)
A memoir of an extraordinary family unexpectedly poor and forced to live on their wits amidst 1970s South African affluence, Tim Ecott's story is at times poignant, funny, affecting and moving. It's also more than a little bizarre.See all Product description
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The author lets us in into the world of his childhood and youth and makes us comfortable there, among unique characters of his family. It's very funny and makes you laugh, but it is also poignant, warm and full of love. Highly recommended!
The book is a very entertaining romp through one family's life. Only about half the book is set in Africa, the rest is very entertaining stories about his very eccentric family.
This book is a perfect antidote to those misery memories that litter the best seller lists. This book has a cold edge of very dark humour that I found very enjoyable.
I highly recommend this book, it deserves a wider audience. It's an easy, pleasurable read that will entertain and shock in equal measures.
Tim is a story teller; and I felt very close to a lot of the events in the book. Often unexpectedly brutal, it is sometimes unnervingly honest - I can imagine him writing a gritty, cold thriller. Although I experienced more than a few belly laughs, much of the book is actually about significant disappointment and not quite getting to where you're supposed to be in life. I found this deeply refreshing and have been more upbeat about life's tribulations as a result.
If you're bored of celebrity rubbish and fancy reading a genuinely interesting and gritty story, I would whole heartedly recommend Stealing Water.
It's not about privilege, about swimming pools and servants, but about struggling to eke out an existence in a dysfunctional but always warm family. I particularly enjoyed the depiction of Ecott's mother, who ran a secondhand store beneath the Carlton Centre, and collected a cast of misfits, admirers, and minor conmen around her.
It's funny, moving, and a great read. Even if you've never been to Johannesburg - nor have any desire to go - you should read it. And laugh.
While other authors might have chosen to dwell self-pityingly on such a difficult upbringing, Tim Ecott's extraordinary family is vividly brought to life in an entertaining and heart-warming manner.
The perfect antidote for these depression / recession-filled times and exactly the sort of book you'll encourage your friends to read.
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