All Lina wanted was to be desired. How did she end up in a marriage with two children and a husband who wouldn’t touch her?
All Maggie wanted was to be understood. How did she end up in a relationship with her teacher and then in court, a hated pariah in her small town?
All Sloane wanted was to be admired. How did she end up a sexual object of men, including her husband, who liked to watch her have sex with other men and women?
Three Women is a record of unmet needs, unspoken thoughts, disappointments, hopes and unrelenting obsessions.
Three Women is a deep and raw look into what desire means, what it entails, and how often women are shamed because of it. Lisa Taddeo presents the stories of Maggie, Lina, and Sloane – three women who were brave enough to share their stories and their deepest desires with the world.
The way this book is written, it almost feels like a fiction book because Taddeo’s writing flows perfectly on page and you’re constantly being pulled in by those fascinating stories. You will keep on reading and want to find out more about the experiences of these three women.
Maggie’s story is focused on her relationship with her teacher while she was still a minor. Since her parents were alcoholics and it was known in her community that she had familial issues and some previous relationships, her testimony against her teacher was never taken seriously. The trial appears on page and it constantly shows how people favoured Aaron because he was married, had a good career, and won awards while Maggie came from a bad family, was known as a troubled kid, and still worked as a waitress even in her twenties. I think her story showed how easy it is for others to dismiss a woman’s story no matter how much proof she has to back it up.
Then there is Lina whose story mainly focuses on her failed marriage and her affair with her high-school sweetheart. I was a bit frustrated with the fact that something big from Lina’s past was barely mentioned even though it was meaningful and would have explained her ever-pressing need to be loved and feel affection. I feel like I can’t blame Taddeo on it though because it’s quite a hard subject to touch upon and since this book is non-fiction, there’s a huge possibility Lina didn’t want to talk about it at all. Something that I really appreciated about her chapters was how in touch Lina was with her needs and her desire. She reached a point where she was fed up with being shamed for wanting to be happy and she started calling out people on their behaviour, which was very admirable.
Sloane was the one that gave me ambivalent feelings for most part. She had everything: a loving husband, came from money, and had her own business. Her issues come from the fact that she’s not voicing her opinion in case she might hurt her husband. He likes watching her sleeping with other men and she doesn’t really know how she feels about the whole thing. As the story progresses, she gets more and more confused about whether she enjoys this arrangement or only agrees with it so she wouldn’t hurt his feelings. I think her privilege annoyed me and while she grew on me near the ending because she started to be more self-aware, it wasn’t enough.
The book was quite original, I adored Taddeo’s idea of discussing desire in such a frank way for once. The writing style also helped a great deal to feel closer to these women, probably if she chose to write it in an article form or interview form, it would have been harder to root for them, to identify with them so easily.
On the other hand, what bothered me quite a lot was the lack of commentary after the women’s chapters ended. I felt like a discussion section would have been welcomed instead of a catch-up session where she briefly told us what those women have been up to. I understand why she chose not to do a discussion, probably because she wanted us to make our own minds, have our own views without her barging in and trying to influence us. Yet I still yearn for her commentary on everything that happened and I think it would have been a great conclusion to the book.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who’s interested in reading the uncensored tales of three women who are just trying to understand themselves and their own desires.
Have you read Three Women? Did you enjoy it?
What are your favourite non-fiction books?