Kate Stevens, once destined for partnership in a renowned New York Law Firm, chose marriage to Harry instead. A bout with cancer changes Kate’s life, leaving her yearning for a less conventional future. A girl called Valery St. John exists within Kate, an alter-ego of verve and daring that has long yearned for adventure – in male terms.

It takes a chance encounter with a beautiful, charismatic artist named Margo to bring Valery, and the alternative lifestyle she represents, to the fore.  Kate’s lesbian affair with the flamboyant painter prompts a personal transformation, and proves a crucible for the relationship between herself and Harry.

A stunning and highly-charged novel, depicting a quirkey, smart young woman at a crossroads in her life in a time of massive social and cultural change, is both subtle and ground-breaking. Its themes of personal expansion, sexual exploration and feminism blend with a satirical take on the old order of the day, where the gray suits of the WASP power front are being challenged by student protests, racial integration and the emergence of women in the workplace.  Underwater became a cult hit, and was published in several different editions, including several paperback versions and foreign language translations.

Underwater (paperback and ebook):

USA:  Barnes and Noble  /  UK:  Foyles / W.H. Smith
Canada:  Chapters   Ireland:  Waterstones
Germany:  Schweitzer   /   Australia:  Booktopia
International:  The Book Depository   /  Amazon.com
and all other Amazon sites

Other books


At just ten years old, Bailey shot her mother’s abusive lover. Drowning the memory inside her, at fourteen she became the youngest alcoholic ever admitted to Stockbridge rehabilitation center. An utterly unique coming of age tale.


Joan Hawkins’ third novel is set in an idyllic New England haven, where a newly-constructed swimming pool in the leafy grounds of Helen Reed’s home becomes a symbol of her independence and of her family’s deepest resentments.


Sylvia Stride is keen to succeed in the  Manhattan law firm where she works. Assigned to a crucial sex discrimination case, her career ambitions are tested when she uncovers clear proof of the firm’s old-guard sexism.

Family Money

New York, 1970s. Janet Sproule’s comfortable, privileged life is suddenly turned upside down when her sister is kidnapped by terrorists. Her family’s reaction to the crisis causes Janet to question everything she has always taken for granted

Buy books

Joan's five books are now in print and broadly available online

Bailey Video

Watch a staged reading from Bailey here


Joan in her own words here