Cover Image: Three Women

Three Women

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A gut-wrenchingly raw exploration of sexual desire and female sexuality, masterfully told. So easy to read that, in parts, it felt like fiction and the empathy I therefore felt for the characters was so strong.
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Based on years of immersive reporting, Taddeo narrates the real-lives of three American women's sexual experiences. Lina, homemaker and mother, embarks on an extra-marital affair with a childhood sweetheart after her marriage deteriorates. Sloane, a confident and out-going restaurateur, is in a happy open marriage with a man whose kink is watching her have sex with other people. Lastly, we first meet Maggie - a 17 year old teen - in a clandestine relationship with her married English teacher; years later, we watch the ensuring criminal trial.

I have found it difficult to review this book. I enjoyed reading the story of three women's experiences of sexuality and sexual politics and found myself embroiled completely in their stories. It's heartbreaking reading in places, and fun and gossipy in others, whilst staying clear of exploitative titillation. It was very entertaining and I raced through this one. At times, it feels like a shockingly intimate account; it felt like the three central women were my friends by the end of the book.  I particularly enjoyed Maggie's story - a powerful and provocative account of statutory rape and the repercussions this has had in her adult life.

However, I think the marketing of this book perhaps lets it down in how it has depicted Three Women as an authoritative mediation on female sexuality and desire. Instead it reads more as a narration of these three women's lives. While I'm sure it would be a great book club read, sparking lots of conversations about women's sexuality, I did not feel like it presented a wider thesis on the nature of female sexuality. Indeed, I felt that one of the major strengths of Three Women was the light authorial voice - Taddeo functions as a platform to get these women's stories out into the world but she draws away from making conclusions or judgments. She is a presenter but not an analyst. Through this, she effectively challenges misconceptions and generalisations.

To conclude, open this book expecting a gripping tale of the sexual politics of three women living in a patriarchal world - and ignore the bigger statements rolling around.
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I devoured a review copy of Three Women by Lisa Taddeo this week, and wow. Documenting the stories of three American women, this book reads like fiction and is entirely heartbreaking. I wasn't sure what to expect but I was left challenged and achingly upset for Maggie, Lina and Sloane. What a powerful read, do get your hands on it if you can.
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A non-fiction book that reads like fiction, the author interviewed three women in great detail about their sex lives and wove a narrative about them.  Reading this book feels like eavesdropping on someone's world without their permission.  It's had a lot of critical attention but I was less keen.
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Three Women by Lisa Taddeo has been everywhere. Bookshops, billboards, on the tube. For a few months, even Instagram became just one big advertisement for it. But, unlike many others I did not feel any of that ground-breaking, earth-shattering regard for its content. And, ultimately, I can pinpoint why into one specific reason: the titular women and their experiences present a very two-dimension look at heterosexual sexuality. All three white. All three conventionally attractive. Two straight (one possibly bi). All three cis. Two Catholic. Two in the Midwest. Two in their forties. Two married.
More importantly, they are all victims of sex; unwilling participants; pushed into relationships and fetishes by their partners, with no regards for their own enjoyment. It is almost a book dedicated to the opposite of sex positivity; a chorus of women admitting that they do not actually enjoy sex that much and they only undertake it as a chore at the benefit of their domineering, and sometimes even abusive, partners. 
And, yes, it would be naive to argue that a lot of women do not experience sex in that way, but Three Women claims some sort of universality to the fact. That, like in so many 1950s sitcoms, all women lay back and think of England whilst their partner fulfils their own sexual desires.
But, is that all of our realities? Or even, just some? Are 100% of heterosexual women tied to unsatisfying sex that they have been coxed into by coercive, sexually-perverse men? For a book about modern-day sexuality, the book certainly falls into old tropes: female virgin (or even just one that is sexually repressed) at the whims of sex-mad, testosterone fuelled men. It is 1950s sitcoms on acid; Carry On movies shining bright for the world to see. Its normative views on gender (and more importantly, on sex) give little very credit to either and I worry that, instead of being informative or eye-opening, Three Women will continue to impound old, tired feelings about how each should approach sexuality.
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I'm sorry i just couldn't get in to this book and gave up.  Was looking forward to it as it sounded really interesting but I didn't enjoy it
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Hard to believe this is classified as a work of reference as you empathise with and insert yourself into the lives of the three protagonists as you only do with a fictionalised character. Sympathetically and realistically portrayed, you're left undecided throughout as to whether openly acknowledging the needs and desires of women is either the root of their downfall or small first steps towards equality of expression. Thought-provoking.
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What a book! So intelligent and sensitively told, while being completely gripping – it reads like a novel, utterly compulsive. I loved it.
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An interesting book, which I think sadly suffered from being marketed incorrectly. If I hadn’t read any of the blurbs or hype, I’d say it’s an interesting piece of narrative non-fiction about the sexual lives of three different women (white women, it has to be said, of varying degrees of education and privilege). Instead, the hype around it sets you up to expect a revolutionary book about female power and desire that all women can relate to. Which it absolutely is not. This book isn’t really about desire, in my opinion. It’s about agency, or lack of it. It’s about being seen and heard, or not, as is often the case. It’s about needs, which are not the same things as desires. These three women are very much at the mercy of men in this book, even when they think they aren’t. They are disrespected and manipulated. Which is not an uncommon experience for women, sadly, but the hype around this book made me believe this would be a different kind of story. It isn't. 

I feel very conflicted about it because even though I empathised with other painful episodes in the women’s lives, I had trouble sympathising with them when it came to the sexual exploits (sleeping with a now-married high school boyfriend; sleeping with other men and women at your husband’s insistence) because they did appear to be participants in their own downfalls - though, Maggie who is only 17, was probably the only one I felt was truly exploited (though the two other women were traumatised in their adolescence too and that damage plays out in their adult lives). This isn't a blame game or victim-shaming exercise - I very much wanted to be on their sides but I found it hard to be.

It starts off well - and there are of course gut-churning moments in the narrative that many women will recognise in their own life. It’s uncomfortable to read in parts and I’m sure that was the intention. I felt the book suffered from being overwritten in places, as if it were not quite sure whether it was a novel or not. But it suffers most of all from being pushed as a revolutionary narrative about female desire - it isn’t, and if that’s truly what people think this book is, that is incredibly depressing. 

With thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of the ebook in exchange for an honest review.
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Three Women is a book I guzzled down. This is a non-fiction exploration of three women’s very different sex lives. Taddeo followed each of them (and others, I believe, although only these three made the final book) for 8 years and crafted their stories into a gloriously readable narrative. Lina is in a sexless marriage and still in love with her high school sweetheart. She begins an affair with him (although affair seems to suggest more than the few quick encounters they have) and the way she romanticises the relationship is heartbreaking. Maggie had sex with her school teacher and thought they were in love. Sloane is married to a man who likes to watch her have sex with other men. Taddeo has a novelistic approach, for instance, describing Lina revealing the affair to some women friends,

“The women are pitched forward, like soup tureens in an earthquake. Their chins are on the heels of their hands, and they are eating mixed nuts nervously.
Oh my, says Cathy. That sounds like quite a man, and a real love affair.
How did it end? someone asks, because women are often better at handling the endings than the beginnings. Lina understands that some women, like her mother and her sisters, truly care for another woman only when that woman is in pain, especially in a kind of pain that they have already felt, and then overcome.”


While the writing is the book’s strength it’s also curiously distancing; it sounds like truth but I’m not sure it is. I felt very much that what I was reading were stories and as such when the end came it was somewhat unsatisfying in its true-to-life inconclusiveness. There are no neat endings here. These are three women who have all had disturbing sex lives in different ways. And I wonder, where is the woman who has a joyous sex life? The woman who has sex with a woman? The woman who is not white? Taddeo never meant for these three women to speak for all women and perhaps the main thing they have in common is they have not been heard before and Taddeo gives them a voice to speak for themselves, albeit filtered through her. It’s certainly a compelling read.
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Without a doubt my book of the year, I can’t begin to describe the effect this book had on me. In bringing these three women to life in such amazing technicolour Lisa Taddeo has somehow managed to capture the experience of a thousand women. Despite how different their lives and stories are, there was something about each of them that felt like a familiar experience. I had to keep reminding myself that it wasn’t a novel. Read it!
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Oh dear!
Three Women is a factual story following the lives of 3 American women, one having an affair, one in court accusing her teacher of rape and the other having threesomes with the consent of her husband.
This should have been fascinating and potentially could have been a thought provoking insight into these women’s lives, but unfortunately it wasn’t.
The writing/reporting of these 3 women left me cold, at no time was I able to connect or feel anything for any character.  
It felt completely unemotional and lacked any depth from the opening chapter to the end.
Three Women was for me personally, too cold, too clinical and not enough emotion to allow the reader to connect, care or feel for the women.
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Loved this book. Great characters, very complex and engaging storyline. Would read more from this author.
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The story of three women chronicled over several years , describing their unfulfilled needs. Not my kind of story. Wasn't really interested in them.
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*** ARC provided by Netgalley via the publisher in exchange for an honest review. ***

Whilst I like the concept of this book, the delivery left a lot to be desired. Was this supposed to come off as a novel? It certainly felt more like that that than a journalistic piece that contained 8 years’ worth of research and interviews.

Also, while I can see the themes of desire and power throughout the book I can’t see how this can be accurately described as desire from a women points of view. Firstly, these women are all white and in heterosexual relationships, could we not find any more diverse women. Or when the research started 8 years or so ago was this not something that the readership demanded? Also, this speak about the desire of one of the three women. The other two stories are defined by the men’s desires through a tale of grooming and pedophilia and another of a man who enjoys his wife sleeping with other people. Not the other way around! Whilst these stories deserve telling I would prefer not to hear about them under the guise of female desire.

I didn’t hate the book, if you have even an iota of interest in women, sexuality, abuse of power etc. then give it a read but don’t expect anything new or for conclusions to be drawn.
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After reading the reviews of others and seeing the publicity surrounding this novel I had high expectations but have to admit to being unable to complete it and regret that I have moved on to other books in my pile "to read". This is in no way a reflection of how I feel about the women who have taken part in this research. 

This is a confusing book as I'm not sure what the author hoped to achieve, despite her explanation at the beginning . She follows the story of three, white American women and portrays their tales of failed relationships, unfulfilled marriages, neglected emotional needs and sexual encounters over a period of 10 years. 

The women who have shared their inner secrets are: Lina, in a sexless marriage, who starts an affair with her first love who abandoned her when she needed him; Maggie who had a sexual relationship with her school teacher; and Sloane a successful business woman who has an to open marriage. 

I found the amount of pain, misery and disappointment depicted in this novel hard and I think is ultimately why I have chosen to walk away. I am not innocent, I am realistic but I found the author very negative and not rounded in the way her research was portrayed . 

Thank you to Netgalley for my copy of this novel but unfortunately it was not for me
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An exploration of female desire, manipulation and exploitation- that is how I would sum up this book. Three Womens stories. I felt, even as I was frustrated by some, that they were so relatable, and in their context of their ages and vulnerability it was understandable- even if certain aspects felt infuriating to me now.
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very interesting book looking at 3 women and their different lifestyles including sex life over a period of time, some of the subjects incorporated in the discussion of their life would be female desire but also recurrent was exploitation whether it was role or safeguarding issues and could be argued that dysfunctional as well in some of the family set ups though as well.  the author herself I feel have made this a honest review of what she has been told by these 3 women and feel it deserves the acclaim as was a hyped up book but feel its allows discussion into what some regard as taboo issues.
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Three Women by Lisa Taddeo is about three very different women, each with their own problems to do with sex, and is a work of non fiction.

Lina is married to a man who doesn't want to touch her.  Sloane is married to a man who likes to watch others touching her.  Maggie is a young woman who realises that the relationship she had with a teacher was actually very different to what she thought it was at the time.

These three women have told their lives to Lisa Taddeo, and so these events are recounted to us with what was said word for word, action for action.  As no one has perfect recall, some of this must have had imagination used, but used to put you in that time and place very effectively.

This is a strong, emotional and upsetting book in places, but a powerful one, that shows these women finding themselves, and understanding their own history a little more.  I did enjoy the book, but it is one of those that comes with trigger warnings!

Three Women was published on 9th July 2019,  and is available to buy on Amazon  and on Waterstones.  I've found a link to where you can search for local bookshops, including independent!

You can follow Lisa Taddeo on Twitter, or through her website.

I was given this book for free in return for an unbiased review, so my thanks to NetGalley and to Bloomsbury Circus (the publishers) for this book.

Check out my GoodReads profile to see more reviews!
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i rarely read non-fiction but the premise of this novel - an exploration of female desire through the lived experience of three different woman from different american social classes intrigued me. I wanted to see if it could live up to the promise of being a statement and a record on being a woman and being sexual in the 21st century.

I have to say I was utterly gripped by this novel but not for it's truth-telling but more out of a voyeuristic position. The portrayal of female is desire in this book is actually more correctly described as how male desire shapes female desire. In each story the woman is having an unconventional, erotic relationship - a girl is abused by her teacher, a wife unloved by her husband has an affair with her high school sweetheart and a wife has sex with other men at her husband's behest. This is not so much about desire as about abuse and how men  gas-light and manipulate women into believing what they're doing is what they want - when this is clearly not the case.

This book is an accurate portrayal of many unhealthy relationships but as a holistic portrayal of female desire in the 21st century, this book fails. It's also white-centric and doesn't take into account the many experiences that women of colour have in their relationships. It may be that would require an entirely separate book, but Taddeo's account doesn't even acknowledge this, its assumption seems to show that all women are white, when they're not. Given that she spent years researching and recording and travelling to get these stories, it seems a shame not to see what experiences shape women's desire that are both different and the same. 

Whilst this book was well written and compelling, I felt it was inconclusive and left the reader to make decisions around the women's experiences. I can see why Taddeo asked us to do this but I think it's important as writers that we show we don't neccessarily condone abusive behaviour - and she doesn't really do this. The story with the teacher was fairly well handled but the other stories were much murkier but also abusive and complex. The book left me feeling uncomfortable, angry and appreciative of my relationship.
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