Date Published: July 2, 2019
Book Author: Lisa Taddeo
Summary reviewed by:
Bachelor of Arts (BA), University Of California, Santa Barbara 2019
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Unlock the unspoken yearnings and veiled agonies of women you think you know—your neighbor, your sister, maybe even yourself. "Three Women" by Lisa Taddeo is an intimate excavation into the desires, tribulations, and emotional landscapes of three women navigating their lives through different facets of sexual and emotional intimacy. This nonfiction narrative unfolds in the span of eight years of immersive reporting, shadowing the lives of three real women. Lina, a housewife suffocated by monotony, rekindles a former flame in an extramarital affair. Maggie, a young woman burdened by a town’s scorn, embarks on a legal battle against a teacher she claims seduced her. And Sloane, a successful restaurant owner, grapples with her husband's sexual fantasies that involve her engaging with other men. Each story orbits around the complicated nexus of female desire, societal norms, and the taboos that dare not speak their name. Candid, gut-wrenching, and painstakingly real, "Three Women" defies simplicity. It dares to ask what women want in a world that often only cares about what they should be.
Lina: A suburban housewife starved for emotional and physical intimacy, plunges into an affair to rediscover lost passion. Values the feeling of being desired, evidenced by her reignition of an old flame at the expense of her marriage.
Maggie: A young woman beleaguered by societal judgment in a small town, she values her own narrative and justice, illustrated in her tireless fight against the teacher she says seduced her.
Sloane: A poised and successful restaurateur who navigates her husband’s complex sexual fantasies. Values a sense of independence while conforming to her husband’s wishes, shown through her willingness to participate in threesomes at his behest.
Female Desire: Explores the multilayered facets of what women want sexually and emotionally. Lina’s search for affection, Maggie’s craving for validation, and Sloane’s attempt to understand her own limits reflect this.
Societal Norms and Judgments: Unpacks the societal pressures and judgments that stifle female expression of desire. Maggie’s court battle and public shaming underline this theme.
Emotional Complexity: Scrutinizes the intricate emotional lives of these women. Sloane’s internal struggles with her marriage and desires serve as a testament to this complexity.
Taboos: Delves into the unspoken or shamed aspects of female life and sexuality. Lina’s extramarital affair reveals how some actions are seen as more transgressive when women undertake them.
Vulnerability and Strength: Showcases the resilience and vulnerability of its characters. The women are not just defined by their struggles, but by their will to navigate them, reflected in each of their individual decisions and actions.