'STEALING WATER is a simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking portrait of poor-white family life in the twilight of apartheid' - Richard E. Grant
When Tim Ecott's family uprooted from Northern Ireland in 1977 they thought they were leaving behind their troubled lives, including the physical threat to Tim's father's life posed by the IRA. They left in search of sunshine and luxury in a colonial ex-pat African setting. His parents sought the financial opportunities that would lift them out of the hum-drum suburban existence of mortgage debts and small town society. However, within six months of their arrival in Johannesburg they were bankrupt, evicted from their home, and had most of their possessions confiscated by the bailiffs. While friends and relatives in Britain imagined that they were living privileged lives, Tim and his family often went hungry. Africa had offered a new beginning, but it became a place of exile where the most relevant new experience was abject poverty.
STEALING WATER is about family, and what holds them together; it is the story of how the worst of times can become the most important and valuable period of a person's life.
Funny, never self-pitying and a pleasure to read - Guardian
There are belly laughs enough, and some serious criminality to boot, but Ecott's outstanding talent as an author is for pathos. [It] moved me more than once to tears. As an author, Dickens is the comparison - Matthew Parris, The Times
Engrossing [. . .] it's a love story without romance, or redemption, or a tidy resolution; and all the finer for it - Mail on Sunday
The narrative crackles and fizzles along - Irish Times
An extraordinary account of childhood in a baroque South Africa. Unputdownable - never sentimental, extremely honest and with a positively Dickensian cast of characters - Emma Thompson
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
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