True Stories of Love, Betrayal, and Sex: A Review of “Three Women”

By: Kara Thomas
Originally published in The Catalyst Newspaper

Illustration by Jubilee Rivera-Hernandez

Lisa Taddeo’s non-fiction novel, “Three Women,” gained much acclaim after it was published in 2019. The book follows the sexual lives of three women: Maggie, Lisa, and Sloan, over the course of several decades.

Taddeo spent 10 years writing “Three Women,” which is quite apparent even in the first few pages of the book. Taddeo writes clearly, capturing the lives of these three women in great detail. So, as you read it, you feel as if you are living their experiences.

The book pulls you through a whirlwind of emotions, sucking you into the lives of the women and their respective partners. Their stories are raw and personal, exciting and depressing. At times, this novel made me want to burst out in tears, and other times, I was angry. Yet, most of the time, I was simply fascinated by how real and unapologetic these women are in their lives.

This novel is great for men and women to read; not only does it reveal how women view desire, love, and relationships, but it also points to the amazing strength women carry with them throughout their lives. It reminds us both to not take any single person for granted and to love endlessly, and to keep your guard up. It is a push and pull between wanting and giving, loving and hating, misery and happiness.

If you prefer novels in which the ending is happy, this book is not for you. Taddeo once again captures the true nature of these women’s lives, and the human experience in general, by leaving the ending seemingly unfinished.

Maggie, Lisa, and Sloan’s stories were told, but they are still being played out past the words on the pages. The ending allows the reader to contemplate how the women’s lives have changed through their lived experiences (note: Maggie was the only character whose real name was used; both Lisa and Sloan were pseudonyms).

Taddeo perfectly touches upon what it means to be a woman pursuing desire in today’s time. Oftentimes, women’s desire is overlooked, frowned upon, or simply laughed at. “Three Women” pushes past those boundaries, unearthing the true desires, feelings, and needs of a female.

Although the women’s stories were heartbreaking as much as they were inspirational, Taddeo focused on white, mostly heterosexual women. Therefore, it would be problematic to assume these three women’s experiences can be generalized to all women everywhere. Women of color, women within the LGBTQ community, and women from different cultures and backgrounds may have vastly different, or similar, experiences as these three women.

Of course, this is not to discredit the stories of Lisa, Maggie, and Sloan, but to simply remind readers to keep in mind that these three women are only a small slice of the pie.

If you loved “Three Women” as much as I did, you might be interested in also checking out “Untamed” by Glennon Doyle.

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