Book Review: Jane’s Away by Clare Hawken

Roger Kurmudge is rather smug about his affluent life and happy marriage.

It’s just as well his wife, Jane, is totally in the dark about what he got up to in the past. But on his retirement day, Jane disappears. Roger’s about to panic. Will he have to sell some shares or – heaven forbid! – the house in Bordeaux to pay a ransom demand? Worse – has Jane discovered his guilty secret?

Then Jane’s emails start arriving. Take the dog to the vet. Look after grandson Alfie for the day. Do the washing, shopping and cooking. Host Christmas for the family. Roger doesn’t know why Jane’s gone but he’s sure he can manage her ‘women’s work’ without any trouble. Although it’s harder than it looks.

As the weeks go by and Jane stays away, Roger is forced to re-examine everything he thought he knew about his family, his life and himself. But even if Roger can change for the better, will Jane ever come back? Or has she, too, been keeping secrets of her own?



Roger is quite pleased with his perfect life. He’s about to retire from a successful business, he has a nice home in Guildford and he has a beautiful and dutiful wife. He has good reason to be smug right? Especially as he’s managed to keep his secret all these years.

When Jane disappears on the day of his retirement and e-mails from her begin to appear, Roger must quickly learn to adapt but Jane’s job of running the house, walking the dog and looking after their grandson should be easy – or so he thinks.

Roger or ‘Woger’ at the start of this story is one of the most frustrating fictional characters I have ever met. He has this attitude that his family are happy purely based on the fact that he’s always provided for them financially and because of this, he feels that he is well liked and respected, both in his personal and professional life. I really wanted to give him a piece of my mind. Haha.

However, as the book progressed, I loved seeing how Roger adapted and began to realise what he had and what he’d taken for granted. There is a wonderful life lesson with this novel and it is tackled well.

The supporting characters are all well rounded and real. Alfie especially was adorable and I really liked Jamie.

Told from the point of view of both Roger and his son, Andy, with the occasional e-mail from Jane, it was nice to see how the various members of the family dealt with Jane’s absence. I would love to also read more from Jane’s point of view. She also goes through a life changing transformation but I feel this would need to be another book, as the mystery of her whereabouts added to the plot.

The style of writing is effortless and I very quickly fell into Roger’s story.

I did find the premise of this novel fascinating and very relatable. I am trying not to give too much away.

Roger has to face life without Jane and he is completely lost – a complete contrast to how he is at the start of his story. His journey and the lessons he must learn were interesting to follow.

There are many moments, some happy, sad and funny. I didn’t quite see the end coming.

However, I found myself cheering for Roger and needed to know his fate and whether Jane would return. As a result, I couldn’t put this book down.

This is a story of self discovery and realising how much we do take for granted. It’s about how precious time is with the people we love and how no amount of money will make up for that.

I loved this novel. It was a great debut novel and I look forward to seeing what Clare Hawken writes next.


About Clare Hawken:

Jane’s Away is Clare’s debut novel, although she has  a couple of other manuscripts in a drawer.

Clare lives in Wiltshire with her family, three guinea pigs and a very stubborn springer spaniel, and when she’s not writing, she’s avoiding housework by hiding in a room, reading one of the many books on her TBR pile.

Say hello to Clare on Twitter

Jane’s Away was released on 8th September 2021. Click to buy on Amazon UK and Amazon US


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I’m Laura. I started Novel Kicks in 2009. I wanted a place to post my writing as well as give other writers like me the opportunity to do the same. There is also a monthly book club, a writing room which features writing prompts, book reviews, competitions, author interviews and guest posts.

I grew up by the sea (my favourite place in the world) and I currently live in Hampshire. I am married to Chris, have a cat named Buddy and I would love to be a writer. I’m trying to write the novel I’ve talked so much about writing if only I could stop pressing delete. I’ve loved writing since creative writing classes in primary school. I have always wanted to see my teacher Miss Sayers again and thank her for the encouragement. When not trying to write the novel or writing snippets of stories on anything I can get my hands on, I love reading, dancing like a loon and singing to myself very badly. My current obsession is Once Upon a Time and I would be happy to live with magic in the enchanted forest surrounded by all those wonderful stories provided that world also included Harry Potter. I love reading chick lit. contemporary fiction and novels with mystery.

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