THREE WOMEN by Lisa Taddeo

From the Jacket

It thrills us and torments us.  It controls our thoughts and destroys our lives.  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 past eight years, journalist Lisa Taddeo has driven across the country six times to embed herself with ordinary women from different regions and backgrounds.  The result, THREE WOMEN, is the deepest nonfiction portrait of desire ever written.

Based on years of immersive reporting, and told with astonishing frankness and immediacy, THREE WOMEN is a groundbreaking portrait of erotic longing in today’s America, exposing the fragility, complexity, and inequality of female desire with unprecedented depth and emotional power.  It is both a feat of journalism and a triumph of storytelling, brimming with nuance and empathy, that introduces us to three unforgettable women—and one remarkable writer—whose experiences remind us that we are not alone.

My Thoughts

I enjoyed reading THREE WOMEN, and I really admired the way Taddeo writes: she is a talented craftsman and storyteller.  As a journalist, her talent for capturing truth and portraying human emotion really shines through in this book.  Though it is not the reportage on women’s desire it claims to be, it is an addictive read and an entertaining glimpse into the lives of three real women.

“We pretend to want things we don’t want so nobody can see us not getting what we need.”

Taddeo presents us with the stories of three [white hetero] women: Maggie, a high school student involved with her English teacher; Lina, a wife who embarks on an affair with her high-school sweetheart; and Sloane, a woman with an all-too-complicated sex life, thanks to her wacky husband.  Of the three stories, Maggie’s and Lina’s immediately hooked me, but Sloane’s section didn’t grip me in the same way; it lacked the sense of urgency that the other women’s stories had.

Maggie’s story was by far my favorite to read, and I looked forward to reading her chapters, though it didn’t necessarily take away from my reading of the other two women’s perspectives.  I think I just connected to Maggie more as a fellow twenty-something not too far out of high school.  As Lina and Sloane are both older and married with children, I didn’t feel especially connected with and drawn to them; if I were older, I know I would’ve appreciated reading their points of view more.

“Women shouldn’t judge each others lives, if we haven’t been through one another’s fires.”

I couldn’t put THREE WOMEN down, and I enjoyed reading it, but at the same time it’s not quite what I was expecting.  Contrary to the jacket description, it is certainly not “the deepest nonfiction portrait of desire ever written,” and Taddeo’s “years of immersive reporting” are not quite imminent in this book.  It is less a researched, journalistic collection and more simply a true narrative of three women, so I can understand why some readers have been disappointed.  But if you’re looking for a well-written, narrative nonfiction book that will suck you in, like I was, you’ll enjoy THREE WOMEN.

14 Comments

  1. Sarah

    I’ve been wanting to pick this up, but it is a bit of a let down that all three subjects are white hetero (and I assume cis) women. Different perspectives would be much more interesting. I might still give it a go, though!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Karissa

    Great review! It’s getting so much buzz but I’ve felt like it’s hard to get a handle on what it really is. The marketing (and the book cover itself) seems to suggest that it is some sort of all-encompassing research-heavy look at the sexuality of all women. It sounds like what it does cover though is very interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

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