Three Women by Lisa Taddeo, What did you think?

I read Three Women by Lisa Taddeo while on our very recent Boot Camp in Ubud, Bali. I have to admit I found it a hard read. If you read the book I'd love to hear what you thought of it.

The blurb, hype, spin around the book was that it was a celebration of female sexuality. I think the reason I found the book heavy going was that I read the "Three Women's" relationships as quite abusive. The women felt to me ... more victims, rather than, in control of their own sexual lives or lives for that matter. The reason I would love to hear what you thought of the book is that the reviews I have read since are truly mixed.

Evening Standard

"There are times when you think, am I nuts, or are they? I refer to the reviewers who are agreed that this is a feminist classic. It tells the story of desire like it is, it reflects the authentic messiness of real life. To which one can only say: are you kidding? How do I hate this book? Let me count the ways. It transgresses the boundaries between fact and fiction in an impermissible way; real life treated as novel. It’s about three damaged, sad women. Given that the author interviewed umpteen candidates to select these three, what sets these apart?"


The Guardian

“Throughout history, men have broken women’s hearts in a particular way,” Taddeo writes in her prologue. “They love and then grow weary and spend weeks and months extricating themselves soundlessly, pulling their tails back into the doorways, drying themselves off, and never calling again.”

The most compelling of the narratives is that of Maggie. When the reader meets her, Maggie is 23 and going to court to confront the teacher named Aaron Knodel with whom she had a relationship as his 17-year-old student in Fargo, North Dakota.



Is it apparent what Taddeo herself wants for this book? She has said she intended to take the pulse of American sexuality, updating Gay Talese’s 1980 study of the sexual revolution, “Thy Neighbor’s Wife,” from a female perspective. But this is not a book interested in capturing a zeitgeist — there is no mention of #MeToo, gender roles or the wider world at all. The focus stays trained on the women — their childhoods, their relationships with men and their mothers — bookended by sections in which the author expresses vague hopes of kindling empathy in her readers.


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Comments 5

  1. I’m with you Lorrie. Three stories about women who have no agency, who measure their worth in one way or another in terms of male approval. There were some jaw dropping moments and you have to question why a story of a young schoolGirl being groomed by a teacher is anything but a story of abuse.
    How can the author even suggest her book is about desire?

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      1. I fell for all the hype and then doubted my own judgement when so many went on about it being a feminist classic….

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  2. Wow, some interesting and contradictory views from the reviews.

    Will watch with interest as anyone else comments on this post …..

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