Three Women

Three Women

Desire as we’ve never seen it before: a riveting true story about the sex lives of three real American women, based on nearly a decade of reporting.It thrills us and torments us. It controls our thoughts, destroys our lives, and it’s all we live for. Yet we almost never speak of it. And as a buried force in our lives, desire remains largely unexplored—until now. Over the p...

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Title:Three Women
Author:Lisa Taddeo
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Three Women Reviews

  • Sarah

    follows - somewhat unsurprisingly - three women in contemporary America: Maggie had a relationship with her teacher when at school and is now at the trial to see whether he will be convicted, Lina is in an unhappy marriage and turns back to the one man in her life who ever satisfied her sexually, Sloane lives to fulfil the sexual whims of her husband who likes to watch her sleep with other men. The reader gets to know these women over the course of the book, which I took to be anythi

    follows - somewhat unsurprisingly - three women in contemporary America: Maggie had a relationship with her teacher when at school and is now at the trial to see whether he will be convicted, Lina is in an unhappy marriage and turns back to the one man in her life who ever satisfied her sexually, Sloane lives to fulfil the sexual whims of her husband who likes to watch her sleep with other men. The reader gets to know these women over the course of the book, which I took to be anything between several months and a few years, I don't believe it was ever explicitly stated. Taddeo lays bare the innermost thoughts and desires of these women, mostly in the context of their sexual relationships - what makes the book so compelling and unique is that Taddeo does this in such a non-judgemental and revealing way, so much so that this reads like gripping fiction when in fact it is entirely non-fiction about these real womens' lives.

    The stories of these women and how they approach and deal with their relationships and the men in their lives revealed things to me about myself and how I act in relationships with men I have dated which I had never before considered. Even if your experiences have differed to these women you will almost certainly find something to relate to here, and even possibly learn something about yourself.

  • Tyler Goodson

    Three Women tells the story of female desire, not as experienced by all women, but by Lina, Maggie, and Sloane. The stories of these women are surprising and thought-provoking, and Lisa Taddeo relates them in a book that is as insightful as it is impossible to put down. It isn't that these three women speak for all women, but that they speak so clearly, honestly, and powerfully for themselves.

  • Jaclyn Crupi

    If you read narrative non-fiction you simply have to read this. You’re going to want to put down whatever you’re reading and get this instead. Lina, Maggie and Sloane and all their desires, obsessions, contradictions, hopes and disappointments are rendered with such compassion and dignity. The achievements of this book will floor you. To Lina, Maggie and Sloane, I see you, I understand you, I believe you. To Lisa Taddeo, I am in awe of you.

  • Eleanor

    Oof. This BOOK. Three women; eight years; their love and sex and desires meticulously recorded, celebrated, foregrounded. It is, almost unbelievably, nonfiction that – in the very truest sense – reads like a novel; Lisa Taddeo gives her subjects the care and complete focus that we often only give to the people we’ve made up.

    The three women she chooses are Maggie, who has an affair with her high school English teacher at fifteen, and at twenty-three decides to seek justice; Lina, who marries the

    Oof. This BOOK. Three women; eight years; their love and sex and desires meticulously recorded, celebrated, foregrounded. It is, almost unbelievably, nonfiction that – in the very truest sense – reads like a novel; Lisa Taddeo gives her subjects the care and complete focus that we often only give to the people we’ve made up.

    The three women she chooses are Maggie, who has an affair with her high school English teacher at fifteen, and at twenty-three decides to seek justice; Lina, who marries the first man who asks, then suffers in the desert of being unkissed and untouched for months on end; and Sloane, who’s thin and hot and rich but whose husband is most turned on by watching her have sex with people he’s chosen for her. They couldn’t possibly be more different, and yet Taddeo seems able to slide into each of their brains with ease. (She is scrupulous, in her prologue, about her sources: she uses text records, phone logs, and court documents where she can, but in situations like Maggie’s–her teacher demanded that she delete every text message sent to, or received from, him–she has had to work with her subject to reconstruct the dynamic from memory.)

    The most interesting element of

    , for me, is Taddeo’s ability not just to trace the events of eight years or so, but to show how every choice each woman makes, every twinge of desire or dread that she feels, is rooted in experiences from years or decades previously. Maggie’s early years–both her parents alcoholics, their marriage essentially loving but under a good deal of strain–make her intensely vulnerable to the isolation and grooming that Aaron Knodel perpetrates upon her. Sloane’s relationship with her mother, Dyan, a woman who herself was starved of familial love after a car that she was driving killed her own mother, is a kaleidoscope of inherited trauma. Lina’s parents’ apparent inability to take anything she says seriously drives her to cover up her own gang rape (by three friends of her older brother) in high school, then to an increasingly desperate need to have her longings acknowledged as an adult. Their choices are the sums of their lives, but so are their needs, their predilections, their compromises.

    You’re likely, I’ll warn you, to come away from this book with the strong conviction that men are worthless toads. None of the featured men treat women well. Aaron Knodel is a weasely paedophile; Lina’s husband Ed is a vague and distant human-shaped meatsack; Aidan Hart–a high school sweetheart with whom she initiates an affair–sees her as an option but never a priority; Sloane’s husband Richard evades all the responsibility for any heartache that their sexual life–based entirely upon what arouses him–causes other couples.

    But the point that Taddeo makes, implicitly but with every sentence, is that men aren’t the fulcrum of this book’s interest. It’s called, after all,

    . The sheer level of focus and attention, of serious consideration, given to the fantasies and realities of her subjects is almost unprecedented. Lina’s goofy texts to her lover made me cringe with their profound lack of sexiness, but Taddeo never cringes. Maggie’s experiences at Knodel’s trial made me flinch, but Taddeo never flinches. Nor does the book judge Sloane. Such care: is that what we mean by grace?

    Three Women

  • Amanda

    “Three Women” is an intense look at the lives of 3 women, delving into their lives over an 8 year period, where they have been interviewed in their home towns. It intrigued me as it was an intimate look at their thoughts and desires, rather like reading someone’s diary.

    The 3 women live in different areas, are different ages and social classes, yet they still have the same desires and hopes for the future.

    I couldn’t help love Maggie, Sloanne and Lina and even though they chose paths that I would

    “Three Women” is an intense look at the lives of 3 women, delving into their lives over an 8 year period, where they have been interviewed in their home towns. It intrigued me as it was an intimate look at their thoughts and desires, rather like reading someone’s diary.

    The 3 women live in different areas, are different ages and social classes, yet they still have the same desires and hopes for the future.

    I couldn’t help love Maggie, Sloanne and Lina and even though they chose paths that I wouldn’t have, you are totally drawn into their lives. The way these women act in relationships and how the author portrays it in a non judgemental way means you can relate to their stories in one way or another.

    A compelling book that made me think about how I am in a relationship and how my past has influenced my present choices.

    This book will stay with me for a long time after reading it, as I think about the courage they had in revealing the true essence of themselves and hope wherever they are, they find contentment.

    If you want something different this is the book for you. Beautifully written with its raw honesty, it made me laugh, cry and shout out in despair. Every woman should read this book!!

    Thank you to Netgalley for my copy in exchange for a review.

  • Roman Clodia

    This is quite a perplexing book as I'm not sure what Taddeo's intentions were. She takes three American women and tells their stories of failed love, disappointing marriages, unmet or unfulfilled sexual and emotional needs.

    In some ways the stories are different and, almost deliberately (?) echo themes covered in recent fiction: Lina, in a sexless marriage, falls into an affair with her high-school boyfriend; Maggie is 'groomed' into a sexual relationship with her high-school teacher; Sloane fin

    This is quite a perplexing book as I'm not sure what Taddeo's intentions were. She takes three American women and tells their stories of failed love, disappointing marriages, unmet or unfulfilled sexual and emotional needs.

    In some ways the stories are different and, almost deliberately (?) echo themes covered in recent fiction: Lina, in a sexless marriage, falls into an affair with her high-school boyfriend; Maggie is 'groomed' into a sexual relationship with her high-school teacher; Sloane finds herself introduced to open marriage built around a ménage theme, and recognises herself as a submissive after reading 'Fifty Shades of Grey'.

    And yet, all three have commonalities: all three women are essentially unfulfilled; all are, to greater or lesser extents, exploited by men. Lina and Maggie are desperately pleading for love from married men who call them up when they choose. Sloane has a troubled history of anorexia/bulimia and despite her seeming assurance, traces early examples of male familial disapproval which affected her adolescence.

    What I found disturbing about the book is a seeming gender essentialism which shows us abject women in thrall to powerful men who control their relationships whether through being unavailable emotionally and physically, sometimes because they're married, or, in the case of Sloane, by a voyeurism which makes her the sexualised object beneath a dual male gaze. The overall tone is one of dysfunctional masochism, especially in the cases of Lina and Maggie.

    It's fascinating to see other women's inner lives but it's also frustrating to see how much pain, misery and lack of agency inhabit these (love) lives. The implication seems to be that whatever happens to level the playing field for women publicly and professionally, there's still an underground struggle for some women who want to be loved in ways that their men and their own choices seem to preclude.

    Thanks to Bloomsbury for an ARC via NetGalley.

  • Claire Gibson

    I have no idea how to rate this book. On one hand, "Three Women" is a fascinating tale — but I wouldn't call it an accurate depiction of female desire, as it's being billed. To me, it is a sad tragedy about sexual dysfunction — not about sex as it should be. It is pornographic — at times, even more pornographic than I thought necessary. However that didn't surprise me, considering the fact that the book sought to lift the veil on "desire." I would love to read a book about healthy sexuality. Sad

    I have no idea how to rate this book. On one hand, "Three Women" is a fascinating tale — but I wouldn't call it an accurate depiction of female desire, as it's being billed. To me, it is a sad tragedy about sexual dysfunction — not about sex as it should be. It is pornographic — at times, even more pornographic than I thought necessary. However that didn't surprise me, considering the fact that the book sought to lift the veil on "desire." I would love to read a book about healthy sexuality. Sadly, I think we see a picture of three women who are used, abused and tossed to the side. This book made me sad. In the end, when sexual awakening is our identity, it will leave us empty, in bondage to the need for breaking taboos, and unsatisfied.

  • Catherine

    I did find the stories interesting to read, but I have a myriad of issues with the book.

    1. This book is marketed as a book about women's sexual desires, but of the three women's stories, only Lina's is about her "sexual desire." Maggie's story is about how she was groomed by her male teacher, and Sloane's is about how she has sex with other men because her husband likes it, even if she doesn't like or find those men attractive. Those two stories aren't about women's sexual desires; they're about

    I did find the stories interesting to read, but I have a myriad of issues with the book.

    1. This book is marketed as a book about women's sexual desires, but of the three women's stories, only Lina's is about her "sexual desire." Maggie's story is about how she was groomed by her male teacher, and Sloane's is about how she has sex with other men because her husband likes it, even if she doesn't like or find those men attractive. Those two stories aren't about women's sexual desires; they're about women being abused by men.

    2. Even though the synopsis says the women are "from different regions and backgrounds," they are actually not different at all (not only because they're all white Americans). Lina outright says that all she wants is for a man to love her and kiss her, and that she thinks women who say they care more about their careers than love are lying. Sloane, upon seeing a girl, immediately starts a mental competition in her head on who's younger, thinner, more alluring in bed, more interesting to talk to afterwards. And, Maggie, whose favorite book is Twilight, wishes she too could have a vampire romance like the one Bella has. These women are not only not different, but also they are all the negative female stereotypes you've ever heard put into three women, which brings me to my third point.

    3. Why choose these women for the book? I had expected when initially hearing about this book something different entirely. For example, maybe there would be a story of an ambitious woman with a high-powered or lucrative career who hates the idea of marriage and having kids and spends her little free time sleeping with interns and secretaries who are awed by her success. I thought there would be more racial diversity (as well as diversity in sexuality), maybe one of the stories would be about an Asian woman who is married to a man but has a tumultuous affair with another woman: her immigrant parents would never approve, so she keeps quiet about her sexuality and her desires. Just something more interesting and more unique (more "groundbreaking," as the synopsis says) considering the author spent eight years traveling across the country to find and interview women for her book. But, instead, this is a story of three white women whose only ambitions are in relations to men. I would understand if this book was written to help bring justice to the women, like Maggie who no one believed or Lina who was gang raped, but all their names and locations have been changed (as the author said), so this isn't going to help them get justice; this is just to tell a story. So, why not at least tell a story that paints women in a positive, stronger light? Or, at least, doesn't just perpetuate the stereotypes that women only see other women as competition, that they exist solely to please men, that all they want is to get married?

    4. The author writes in the epilogue that the type of woman who is heard is white (along with young, rich, and pretty). It is a random statement to include, considering the three women in the book are white, and I think it was included to score some brownie points (the way an award show that nominates and awards white actors and actresses hires a host to crack a few jokes about lack of diversity) and to appease any reader who might have been wondering: "How representative is this book of women and female sexual desire if it only tells the stories of white women?"

  • Bryn Greenwood

    Reviewed for The Washington Post, to be published July 9, 2019.

  • Book of the Month

    "Why I love it"

    by Lisa Taddeo

    Recently over drinks I asked a friend, “What’s the last book you read that you just couldn’t put down?” Without hesitation, she answered,

    . Now, I’m not usually a nonfiction reader—and I have a stack of half-read memoirs to prove it—but with this book, I have to agree with my friend:

    sucks you in from the very first page. After all, who would pass up a voyeuristic glimpse behind the bedroom doors (or in some cases, the classroom or car doors) o

    "Why I love it"

    by Lisa Taddeo

    Recently over drinks I asked a friend, “What’s the last book you read that you just couldn’t put down?” Without hesitation, she answered,

    . Now, I’m not usually a nonfiction reader—and I have a stack of half-read memoirs to prove it—but with this book, I have to agree with my friend:

    sucks you in from the very first page. After all, who would pass up a voyeuristic glimpse behind the bedroom doors (or in some cases, the classroom or car doors) of three real women?

    Lisa Taddeo spent eight years and thousands of hours with the women profiled in

    , and she gives a shockingly vulnerable account of their sexual histories and innermost desires. There’s Maggie, a 23 year old in North Dakota involved in a court case against the high school teacher she had a physical relationship with as a minor. Lina is an Indiana housewife in a loveless marriage, embarking on an affair with her high school sweetheart. Finally, there’s Sloane, a glamorous 40-something in Newport, RI, who has sex with other men while her husband watches.

    Despite having little in common with any of these women on the surface, I found a great deal of power and resonance in the depiction of their emotional lives and motivations. Who among us can’t relate to the fear of being alone or the desire to be loved—even by someone who isn’t exactly perfect? It's this emotional universality that has me predicting this book will be the nonfiction read of the summer.

    Read more at:

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