I always feel a little strange reviewing (auto)biographies because it’s almost like I’m reviewing someone’s life, however this book hit me so hard that I felt that I needed to write something about it. This is such a beautiful & unique book in which Lisa Taddeo has documented the lives of three very real women – & somehow, whilst doing so, she has managed to explore experiences that all women readers will feel some kind of connection to, & there really are no words to express how magical that is.
⚠️ This book is about the lives of three real women & covers the following topics: alcoholic parents, drug use, very detailed sex scenes, eating disorders, car crashes, depression, suicide & the death of a parent ⚠️
⚠️ Additionally, the following sexual abuse/violence are featured in the book: grooming by a teacher leading to a sexual assault; a man in his 30s taking advantage of a 16-year-old girl; a teenage girl raped by three teenage boys whilst drunk ⚠️
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 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 and one of the most anticipated books of the year.
Based on years of immersive reporting, and told with astonishing frankness and immediacy, Three Women is a ground-breaking 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.
Maggie, Lina & Sloane are all strong women who have all dealt with the issues women face on a daily basis, & each of them has had to work hard to be true to who they are; all three stories are about love & sex, but each is totally different from the others & each provokes different emotions from you as the reader. This is definitely a difficult book to review, but it is one I recommend to absolutely everyone, regardless of gender or background.
Maggie’s story was the one that grabbed me the most at the beginning. Maggie comes from a vulnerable background & was undeniably taken advantage of by her English teacher – her teen experiences made me so incredible angry, but I was in awe of the strong woman that was taking control & telling her story. I’m currently studying an MA in child protection at university, so being able to read about Maggie’s experiences in such a direct & emotional way really did feel like an honour. Maggie’s chapters went beyond her survival story though, & went into detail about how her life progressed after her abuse, highlighting how an experience like hers never leaves you & how it continues to affect your life years after its ended. Maggie’s bravery at having Lisa write her story provides us with a very real look into what it is like to think your teacher is in love with you & how something like that changes who you are at your core, & if the book had been about her alone then it would have been just as unforgettable.
The book isn’t just about Maggie though, we also get told about Lina’s life. The start of Lina’s story was one that I was able to relate to, in part, as I am still young enough to remember, in detail, how hypnotising older boys can be when you’re a teenager. But, I’m also now old enough to recognise how badly I was taken advantage of (even if my experiences were nothing compared to Lina’s), & so all I wanted was to be able to protect Lina from horrible, manipulative boys. I also connected with Lina because she has fibromyalgia, which is one of the many conditions I’ve been diagnosed with – but what really made me identify with her was her admission that good sex, with a good man, helps alleviate her pain! I cannot thank Lisa Taddeo enough for including this one little detail because it helped me to feel less alone. Lina’s chapters also explore her desire to be loved, & that made me sad because I also know how painful that need can be. I spent a lot of the time praying for Lina to be happy & all I wanted was for things to work out for her. And so, if the book had just been about Lina, I would have been more than satisfied with my purchase of the book.
Lastly, we have Sloane’s story; Sloane’s story is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, but I know that there will be many people out there who do identify with her story. I found Sloane’s chapters fascinating, if that isn’t a strange thing to say, & her whole life felt like it was a complete step-up from mine. Sloane came across as strong & fierce, completely in control of her life, but of course there were definitely times when she was not. Sloane was the only woman who I wasn’t sure about; I loved her for her open love for sex & how her & her husband explored it, but I felt frustrated by how her actions may have affected others. Nevertheless, Sloane’s story was a fantastic insight into how something I may perceive as bad, can be the only way for someone else to be happy in life. So, once again, if the book had only told Sloane’s story, I would have still given it five stars.
The fact that I would have been happy reading just one of these stories meant that being able to read all three was an incredible experience. All three of the stories were about love, sex & desire from three very honest women – something that is still quite hard to find in popular literature – & I was completely hooked on every chapter, totally desperate to consume the women’s stories as quickly as I could. I was incredibly sad when the book ended & in my opinion it ended too soon! I’m guessing that it ended when Maggie, Lina & Sloane’s stories became present rather than past, but I came to care so much for all three women & I still very much want to know that they’re all doing okay.
This was such an incredible project for Lisa to embark on & the time that must have gone into it is unimaginable. I think that Three Women is potentially a life changing read for some people & it’s one that has stuck with me for a long time since finishing it. I can’t see why anyone wouldn’t want to read it so please do use one of the links below to get your hands on a copy (or, of course, request it at your library)!
Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com | Book Depository | Hive | Waterstones
Find the emoji-key here.
This website uses some affiliate links.