- File Size: 1573 KB
- Print Length: 321 pages
- Publisher: Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster (July 9, 2019)
- Publication Date: July 9, 2019
- Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
- Language: English
- ASIN: B07MNJS37D
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,137 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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|Print List Price:||$17.00|
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“Taddeo spent a decade immersed in the sex lives of three ordinary American women. . . . The result is the most in-depth look at the female sex drive and all its accompanying social, emotional, reproductive, and anthropological implications that’s been published in decades.”
“Three Women is a masterpiece. . . . You’ll want to pass your copy on to a friend as soon as you’ve read it; it’s a book that begs discussion.”
“A deeply reported, elegantly written, almost uncomfortably intimate portrait of three American women . . . Taddeo reveals something universal in each of their stories. . . . The result is a nonfiction book that feels as close to its subjects as a novel, like Adrian Nicole LeBlanc’s Random Family or Anne Fadiman’s The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down.”
—Columbia Journalism Review
“An astonishing work of literary reportage . . . As Lisa Taddeo writes about her subjects, the women she uses to map out an anthropological, humane, passionate study of female desire, she seems almost to inhabit them. . . . A fascinating appraisal of a subject few writers have approached so intently.”
“There isn’t a woman alive who won’t recognize—her stomach lurching, her heart beating wildly—something of what Maggie, Lina, and Sloane go through.”
“Three Women burns a flare-bright path through the dark woods of women’s sexuality. In sentences that are as sharp—and bludgeoning, at times—as an ax, [Taddeo] retains the accuracy and integrity of nonfiction but risks the lyrical depths of prose and poetry.”
—Los Angeles Times
“I can’t remember the last time a book affected me as profoundly as Three Women. Lisa Taddeo is a tireless reporter, a brilliant writer, and a storyteller possessed of almost supernatural humanity. As far as I’m concerned, this is a nonfiction literary masterpiece at the same level as In Cold Blood—and just as suspenseful, bone-chilling, and harrowing, in its own way. I know already that I will never stop thinking about the women profiled in this story—about their sexual desire, their emotional pain, their strength, their losses. I saw myself in all of them. Truly, Three Women is an extraordinary offering.”
—Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love and City of Girls
“An extraordinary study of female desire . . . To write this kind of nonfiction—it’s true, but reads like a novel—Taddeo smartly employs not only interviews but also diary entries, legal documents, letters, emails and text messages. The result is a book as exhaustively reported and as elegantly written as Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers or Adrian Nicole LeBlanc’s Random Family. . . . Taddeo’s language is at its best—sublime, even—when she describes the pain of desire left unfulfilled.”
—Elizabeth Flock, Washington Post
“Revealing . . . Taddeo has created a work of nonfiction that unfolds like an intriguing beach read. . . . We’re privy to their deepest insecurities and most vivid sexual encounters.”
—Maris Kreizman, Wall Street Journal
“Three Women is a battle cry. . . . Taddeo never judges. She doesn’t slip into pseudopsychological frameworks for sex. She inhabits her subjects. And if you think her topic sounds a little louche, or isn’t quite your thing, the true magic of this book may lie less in the subject matter and more in the style. . . . It’s the literary brilliance of the book that will knock you back—how she channels these women’s voices through her own. . . . For anyone who thinks they know what women want, this book is an alarm, and its volume is turned all the way up.”
—Lea Carpenter, Time
“What makes Three Women so remarkable and indelible, and also so refreshingly out-of-step with the tenor of the present moment, is Taddeo’s refusal to judge these ‘characters.’ She is not particularly interested in determining who is right, who is wrong, and who is to blame. Intensity and compulsion draw her to these stories like tractor beams. What most fascinates her is how sexual desire transfigures the entire tissue of a personality and changes the course of lives.”
—Laura Miller, Slate
“This is an unusual, startling, and gripping debut. It feels to me like the kind of bold, timely, once-in-a-generation book that every house should have a copy of, and probably will before too long.”
—Megan Nolan, New Statesman
“A work of deep observation, long conversations, and a kind of journalistic alchemy. Taddeo spent years with the subjects of Three Women, and the investment pays off. . . . What makes their stories revolutionary is the exquisite candor with which Taddeo gives them voice . . . She seamlessly weaves together everyday details and startlingly intimate moments into narratives that feel as real, as vital, as the pulse in your wrist. . . . As the three women’s tales alternate, Taddeo narrates with a magically light touch, inhabiting each so fully we feel as if we’re living alongside them. The book is sexually explicit—you might blush when reading it—but it never feels gratuitous or clinical. Its prose is gorgeous, nearly lyrical as it describes the longings and frustrations that propel these ordinary women. Blending the skills of an ethnographer and a poet, Taddeo renders them extraordinary.”
—Kate Tuttle, NPR
“Searing . . . The stories of Taddeo’s subjects, Sloane, Lina and Maggie, all feature the illicit—threesomes, dominance and submission, underage sex—and each includes a hefty dose of good old-fashioned adultery. . . . The result is effective and affecting. . . . Taddeo reveals an avalanche of evidence, as if we needed more, that the cozy comforts of marriage and its defining, confining attribute, monogamy, provide the perfect petri dish for combustible sex—with someone other than your spouse.”
—Toni Bentley, New York Times Book Review
“I literally could not put it down. An unflinching dissection of female desire so poetically described, I forgot it was nonfiction. Lisa Taddeo makes a gorgeous, unabashed debut. Wow.”
“A heartbreaking, gripping, astonishing masterpiece, Three Women is destined to join the canon both of journalistic excellence and feminist literature.”
“This is one of the most riveting, assured, and scorchingly original debuts I’ve ever read. Taddeo’s beautifully written and unflinching portraits of desire allow her protagonists to be wholly human and wholly, blessedly complex. I can’t imagine a scenario where this isn’t one of the more important—and breathlessly debated—books of the year.”
—Dave Eggers, author of The Monk of Mokha
“Three Women reads like a nonfiction novel in the deeply embedded, richly detailed vein of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood or Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air. . . . It’s Taddeo’s deep, almost feverish commitment to detail and context that elevates the stories, making them feel not just painfully real but revelatory. In her efforts to explore ‘the nuances of desire that hold the truth of who we are at our rawest moments,’ she actually does much more: By peeling back the layers with such clear-eyed compassion, Taddeo illuminates the essential, elemental mystery of what it is to be a woman in the world.”
—Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly
“An extraordinary book . . . In weaving these stories together, Taddeo paints an electrifying picture of female desire, and of the pain men casually inflict in their pursuit of sexual pleasure. She writes in searing prose that seems to capture every nuance. . . . At times there are biblical resonances to the prose. This seems entirely appropriate in work that is intended to capture the primal, scorching, life-changing power of sexual desire amid the banality of our daily lives. It doesn’t just aim. It succeeds. Three Women is an astonishing act of imaginative empathy and a gift to women around the world who feel their desires are ignored and their voices aren’t heard. This is a book that blazes, glitters, and cuts to the heart of who we are. I’m not sure a book can do much more.”
—Christina Patterson, The Sunday Times (UK)
“Three Women offers a fascinating excavation of the intricacies of love and desire, where they conspire and where they conflict. Read this book. You will forever rethink the erotics of women.”
—Esther Perel, author of Mating in Captivity
“Taddeo is stellar at embodying the women, taking on the voice of each in turn. It produces a feeling that the reader is sitting down over coffee to listen to the deeply personal and frequently painful stories of Maggie, Lina, and Sloane. . . . With the disparate threads of these stories, Taddeo weaves complex connections between her subjects' desires.”
—Bryn Greenwood, Washington Post
“If it is not the best book about women and desire that has ever been written, then it is certainly the best book about the subject that I have ever come across. When I picked it up, I felt I’d been waiting half my life to read it; when I put it down, it was as though I had been disemboweled. . . . There isn’t a woman alive who won’t recognize—her stomach lurching, her heart beating wildly—something of what Maggie, Lina, and Sloane go through.”
—Rachel Cooke, Guardian
“Three Women is an extraordinary piece of nonfiction—a page-rippingly intimate and compelling narration of the desires and sexual proclivities of three real women, how those desires and proclivities were shaped, and the ways in which their communities and society judge them. . . . She does not sensationalize, but nor is she coy; the narrative crackles with visceral details of eroticism: blood, semen, plucking nipple hairs before a date. The result feels like a new genre—as a reader, I frequently forgot that I wasn’t immersed in fiction—and is already one of the most talked-about books of the year.”
—Jane Mulkerrins, The Times (UK)
“Three Women is the new required reading for women and any person who wants to know them. Taddeo has given these women’s testimonies of desire, love, and trauma a brilliance and dignity that is nothing short of revolutionary.”
—Stephanie Danler, author of Sweetbitter
“This nonfiction look at the sex lives of three American women will be whispered about around pools from coast to coast.”
—Town & Country
“Taddeo takes readers inside the lives of three women whose lives were profoundly influenced by choices they made regarding sexuality. Written in beautiful prose, Taddeo’s take makes the nonfiction stories come alive in a collection you won’t be able to put down.”
“This book—challenging and heartbreaking—will stay with me. An extraordinary, documentary deep dive into the psychology of women and sex and the stories we tell ourselves. Three Women is as unputdownable as the most page-turning fiction.”
—Jojo Moyes, author of Me Before You
“The hype for Three Women is real. In fact, it’s insufficient. . . . Each sentence glows with an insight you won’t want to forget.”
—Elena Nicolaou, Refinery29
“Taddeo has a strong sense of storytelling, setting hooks in each woman’s early chapters before circling back and unfolding their narratives with greater depth. Her short, punchy sentences, eye for telling details, and the wellsprings of conveyed emotion make for a charged, heady read. . . . Taddeo makes palpable the pangs of yearning, and how it can feel to have one’s needs long go unfulfilled and then at last satisfied.”
—Laura Adamczyk, AV Club
“Three Women is a gripping, moving, haunting account of something that is at once fundamental to who we are and often obscured, even from ourselves. The way these three women tease out what they want from what they think they want—the sensations and the emotions, the connections and the atmosphere—transcends sensuality to become something raw, vulnerable, and human. Taddeo’s remarkable way with language cuts to the quick, elevates the quotidian, and makes for a page-turning read.”
—Bridey Heing, Bust
“Three Women is my favorite kind of non-fiction: absorbing, narratively compelling, and replete with portrayals of complete humans. Lisa Taddeo spent eight years with the three women whose stories she tells here, and the resulting portrait of their sex lives is completely riveting.”
—Jessie Gaynor, Lit Hub
“Three Women explores female desire in intimate detail, creating an emotionally charged work of nonfiction that’s as propulsive as any thriller.”
— AV Club
“An emotionally powerful and narratively enthralling portrait of these women’s—and indeed many women’s—wants, needs, pains, pleasures, and heartbreaks.”
“Intensively reported . . . An immersion course in the rituals and consciousness of individuals expressing their desires . . . You come away disturbed, entertained, jolted, and ultimately longing for a cigarette.”
—Boris Kachka, Vulture
“Rather than dealing in cheap titillation, the author crafts engaging narratives. . . . Three Women captures the pain and powerlessness of desire as well as its heady joys.”
“A master class in empathy, Lisa Taddeo’s revelatory work of narrative nonfiction is already shaping up to be a feminist touchstone for years to come. . . . At once epic and intimate, Three Women is an essential exploration of female desire and its consequences in a patriarchal society.”
“Taddeo spent eight years studying the emotional landscape of three women as it related to their love and sex lives. What results is a book more engrossing than any soap—a book that pays deep and solemn attention to the link between a woman’s body and heart, and her sense of self.”
“If you guzzled all of Esther Perel’s couples counselling podcast or wonder whether those [New York] sex diaries can possibly be real, here’s your summer read. Lisa Taddeo draws on eight years of research to render three portraits of real women and their experiences of desire, coupling, and relationships.”
“Dexterous and suspenseful . . . The stories of Maggie, Lina, and Sloane are offered here without judgment, which allows readers to objectively view their multivalent experiences. With Three Women, a heavyweight and a knockout both, Taddeo makes it possible for each woman to be the agent of her own storytelling.”
“It’s been years since I’ve read a book as propulsive, engrossing, mind-bending, and required as Lisa Taddeo’s Three Women. On the surface, it’s an account of how desire organizes, disrupts, and sometimes threatens to destroy the lives of its three heroines—and that, it seems, is the only way they’d have it. In this age of social media, when the most superficial forms of connection and engagement are touted as their opposites, Three Women reads like an antidote for our technologically-driven isolation and loneliness. It is the deepest dive into our neighbors’ consciousnesses that I’ve ever read, so immersive it approaches the Tolstoyan, and its narcotic pleasures mainline the only thing that can truly save us: empathy.”
—Adam Ross, author of Mr. Peanut
“Three Women is painstaking, painful, unblinking, unsentimental, and utterly unapologetic. Lisa Taddeo comes scarily close to proving the truth of a line uttered by a character in an Antonya Nelson story: ‘Love is sadness.’ ”
—David Shields, author of The Trouble With Men: Reflections on Sex, Love, Marriage, Porn, and Powe
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From the 5000 or so letters women have sent me over the years seeking love advice, I thought I'd have some initiation into the issues of female desire. But this book seems to be something else entirely. The molecular-level excursion into the minds of the three women, their sometimes minute-by-minute thoughts, the earth-cleaving intensity of their deprivation and desire, the cataclysms of momentary fulfillment (followed by "Will it ever happen again?"), the perpetual background noise of inadequacy -- all revelatory. Is this sample representative of all women? Is this really what goes on inside their minds and bodies? The book's called "Three Women", not "All Women", and the poetry and heart of Taddeo's writing have the ring of truth to it, so I'll go with that for now.
The three central figures cover a broad range of Americana: an upper-class East Coast restaurateur whose husband likes to watch her with other men; a middle-class unhappily-married Midwestern mother of two reconnecting with her high school flame; and a working-class girl who got involved with her married teacher when she was underage. Taddeo depicts four-dimensional portraits of Maggie, Sloane and Lina, moving through time in the full range of emotional space. These portraits are so convincing that it felt at times that I resided inside the protagonists' heads. This is novelistic writing at its best, except that none of it is fiction.
The novelistic treatment can also get a bit heavy-handed. And it's hard for me to believe that it's all pain, bad decisions and anguish out there, punctuated by the occasional furtive orgasm from an illicit source. Fine, love and sex are complicated and all, but surely there's *someone* having some simple fun somewhere?
And there's a fourth player in the book: technology. I couldn't help but notice how much of the narrative was shaped by text messages deleted or spied on, cellphones running out of charge, sext and video spicing things up or bringing homes down. Apparently there be dragons out there, and Taddeo's book is artful, compassionate, and convincing cartography of some terra incognita. Read it for a deeper understanding of humans, or just for the thrill of it.
-- Ali Binazir, M.D., M.Phil., Happiness Engineer and author of The Tao of Dating: The Smart Woman's Guide to Being Absolutely Irresistible , the highest-rated dating book on Amazon, and Should I Go to Medical School?: An Irreverent Guide to the Pros and Cons of a Career in Medicine
I think this book is relatable in the strongest sense of the word.
The three women in the book all have different stories but are similar in the sense that they are all feeling unfulfilled with their current situations.
I got very emotionally attached to all of these women, I was more invested in two of the three but every single story was compelling and upsetting at the same time. Each chapter shocked me a little more and I found myself frustrated with the feeling that the happiness of these women’s lives was so dependent on the actions of the men around them.
It was very easy to get invested in the stories and the writing does not make you feel like you are reading a work of non-fiction. I will say that if you don’t like sexual content in your books that you may want to pass on this one. Otherwise I completely recommend this book.
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A review cannot do justice to the brilliance, beauty, and power of this book.
Absolutely flawlessly written and overflowing with insights from how a woman's sexuality is often vulnerably formed by life-defining events in our developmental years, to navigating patriarchal confines regarding female advocacy in sexuality, to how this all translates into our comprehensive life experiences as women.
Three Women is a must-read.
Top international reviews
I urge everyone to read this book for its forensic yet empathetic examination of the complexity of female sexual desire and agency. I think it is likely the most impactful and important book written on this subject for a long time, if not ever.
Three Women follows the sex lives of three ordinary women with very different stories but they all revolve around one thing; how much the men in their lives suck. These women are known by Sloane, Lina and Maggie, whose stories are based on real events over a decade. Like many books with more than one narrative, I enjoyed some more than others. Maggie, for me, was the stand out narrative. I felt the most invested in her character and in her story. Lina, I thought, started out strong but for me she got more and more insufferable and the more I wanted to shake some reality into her. THE MAN IS TRASH LINA. LITERAL TRASH. I also found that I didn’t really connect with Sloane’s story. Perhaps because I couldn’t find anything in her that I could relate to. But none of these narratives were ‘bad’. They all had distinct stories, all of which were very raw and very real tales about female desire, which I haven’t seen done in this way before.
In terms of writing, for the most part I thought it was beautifully written. Until I came across a sex scene, and there was a lot of them (plucking? really!?). I found Lina’s sex scenes particularly difficult to read, as there were some descriptions that I thought were a bit unnatural and some imagery that was, in my opinion, pretty gross. But hey, whatever you’re into, Lina. Part of me thinks this might have been intentional, that these scenes were supposed to make you feel uncomfortable in some way. But at least there weren’t any male writers badly describing the female body. So at least that was a plus.
This book definitely isn’t for everyone. If you’re more of a plot driven person, you might find Three Women a bit long and slow. There’s also not much of an ending, much like with reality, life just goes on. There isn’t any closure which could be frustrating for some readers.
Overall, despite the things I didn’t like about this book I really enjoyed it. I’m still thinking about it days after reading it and I think it will stay with me for a long time. I think it’s the type of book that will open doors for similar works, and I highly recommend that you read this book if it sounds like something you would enjoy.
Wow, as a middle age man, I wasn’t sure what I would make of this book. And one review mentioned that some of these women didn’t appear as anything special in their stories. But the descriptions of these three different women, Lina, Sloane and Maria, and their desires and love, which aren’t always the same things though that’s not always clear when you're in a world of either desire or pain. Lina wants French kissing and desire and a man who’ll flip her and desire her (but the man she marries isn’t that), Maria has taken her teacher to court (though only when she realises he’s made teacher of the year) and who seduced her when she was a child at school, and Sloane is into threesomes with her husband - she’s my favourite but Maria’s story is the most gripping. I thought these three individual yet interlinked in their themes were three wonderfully stories, were almost Chekhovian in scope, meaning and description. These stories also took me back to my own youth and the sometimes unrealistic, messy and stupid expectations and dumb but wonderfully excstatic moments of transcendence and wonder in a mixture of hormonal chemicals and a still developing and not always emotionally fair or wise brain. I was riveted to their stories, all are flawed and not perfect, but aren’t we all - though perhaps some have greater self awareness than others. Some of their decisions hurt and they make choices that aren’t always likeable but these are made on the way that men make them too. I felt sympathy for the men and women equally though I’m sure some will hate or at least despise some of them. A book to make you think, feel and hopefully become a little more empathetic to others. I empathised with both the men and women in these stories (all real) and was always aware that my feelings and thoughts weren’t being made with the emotional weight or feelings that they were feeling - and that changes everything. It’s a real page turner and the author writes beautiful prose and a few philosophically wise words that grip and enlighten. I loved this book.