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Three Women

Three Women


Three Women

ratings:
4/5 (314 ratings)
Length:
11 hours
Released:
Jul 9, 2019
ISBN:
9781508282075
Format:
Audiobook

Editor's Note

Hot summer read…

New York magazine contributor Lisa Taddeo spent eight years (!) reporting on the intimate lives of three American women. The result is a sultry, clear-eyed work of narrative journalism that is so propulsive it reads more like a great work of fiction meant to be devoured on the beach than a non-fiction exploration of sex and female desire — but that’s part of its brilliance. Emma Roberts selected “Three Women” as her July 2019 Belletrist book club pick.

Description

From a thrilling new talent, Three Women is an astonishing work of narrative journalism — reported over eight years — about the sex lives and desires of three ordinary American women.

Lina, a homemaker in suburban Indiana, is a decade into a passionless marriage when she embarks on an affair that quickly becomes all-consuming and transforms her life. Sloane, a glamorous entrepreneur in the Northeast, is married to a man who likes to watch her have sex with other men and women. Maggie, a high school student in North Dakota, begins a relationship with her English teacher that will have extraordinary consequences for them both — as well as the community in which they live.

For nearly a decade, Lisa Taddeo, an award-winning journalist and longtime contributor to New York Magazine and Esquire, embedded herself with three everyday women to write this deeply immersive account of their erotic lives and longings. The result — shocking, powerful, and timely — comes across like George Packer’s The Unwinding, but for the state of female desire. Three Women is a major work from an exhilarating new voice.

Released:
Jul 9, 2019
ISBN:
9781508282075
Format:
Audiobook

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What people think about Three Women

4.1
314 ratings / 31 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (5/5)
    I think all women can relate to each character in ways. This book was amazing. I was sad when I got to the end and it was over.
  • (5/5)
    An honest, sometimes hard to hear account of three women’s experiences in sex, love, and intimacy. A good read for all women.
  • (4/5)
    Beautifully written look at women, desire, and how we perceive each other.
  • (3/5)
    This read like a Gender studies required reading. Not a page-turner and I couldn't will myself to care about the characters.
  • (4/5)
    Talks about all the injustice women go through even in the 21st century , how they are only held responsible and the other side of the coin is never examined .
  • (5/5)
    Well written and engaging. Hard to put down. I can see every woman I know in this assortment of characters, including myself. A definite MUST read.
  • (5/5)
    Amazing, I'm very moved by this book. An intricate and intimate account of women's experience in this world. Reads like a fiction but the thought that it's not only adds power to the narrative.
    (there's an error in chapter 6 of the audiobook, had to switch to the e-book for a bit)
  • (4/5)
    It was disturbing to read those stories but also gripping. I saw myself in each of the women, knowing that in a different time and place, I could have been any of them. Their stories could have been mine.
  • (4/5)
    “She knows what to wear to every kind of dinner, the dress that is powerful, feminine, glowing and form fitting at once. Because there is a prescription, there is an exact way to get dressed to get what you want. It’s not about being sexy, it’s about being everything before the man thinks of what he wants.”
  • (5/5)
    I never wanted it to end. I felt I was inside the hearts, minds, and souls of each of the women. Such talent it takes to interview about such deeply personal feelings, to allow time (8 years!) for the women to speak so honestly and openly; and then to write so beautifully and honestly. I've read many books by journalists, and none was like this. One of the best books I've ever read.
  • (5/5)
    Initially I was sceptical as the narration moved from first to second person - possibly some fangled approach designed to be dynamic, or to mix things up - either way, I found it irritating and confusing. But, once the writing settled into itself it became very difficult to resist.The book tells the stories of three different women. They have no connection to each other, but each has their story to tell and the author has clearly spent a lot of time with each of them. They have no axe to grind, no agenda to push, they are simply women whose real stories have real effects on their lives. Broadly speaking the stories are about relationships: platonic, rewarding, sexual, abusive, dysfunctional. Each of the three women, whose stories unfold in turn-about chapters, has or is struggling with a relationship that is either illicit or unconventional. Sadly, in spite of the women sometimes feeling powerful in these relationships, mostly they are subjugated by the men in their lives.The book is a great example of narrative non-fiction, and I highly recommend it.
  • (4/5)
    These are words on the lives of three women. The author spent, she says in the introduction of this book, thousands of hours with the women over eight years.

    The book is airy, not a dense mass of words, which is what working on something closely for a long period of time can do to you; many authors seem quite easily content with placating their own desires, but when adjusting to the fact that one has to write truthfully—which this book does, I believe—about three different persons, it takes a special author who can exalt itself to virtue and zen-y bypass the self.

    Still, it'd be brutal to suggest that a human author can separate itself completely from its subjects, and, to an even greater extent, from injecting itself into a book about others.

    The rhythm of the book is what pulled me into it; you know the feeling of being lulled into security by a talented and veteran writer? That is what happened to me with this book.

    While I never had occasion to wonder about my father’s desire, something in the force of it, in the force of all male desire, captivated me. Men did not merely want. Men needed. The man who followed my mother to and from work every day needed to do so. Presidents forfeit glory for blow jobs. Everything a man takes a lifetime to build he may gamble for a moment. I have never entirely subscribed to the theory that powerful men have such outsize egos that they cannot suppose they will ever be caught; rather, I think that the desire is so strong in the instant that everything else—family, home, career—melts down into a little liquid cooler and thinner than semen. Into nothing.

    There's succinct curtness at the base of the book. Even the quotes are quite sparse. It creates a kind of ballet feeling where the dancers move around much by the use of small and quick steps. The rhythm is nearly poetic.

    Because most people will agree—when a lover shuts down, refuses to meet you, doesn’t want his Oral-B back, doesn’t need his trail shoes, doesn’t return an email, goes out to buy another pair of trail shoes, for example, because that’s better than dealing with your mousetrap pain, it’s as though someone is freezing your organs. It’s so cold you can’t breathe.

    Most people can probably relate quite well to this book. Much time, patience, and—I guess—revision and editing have gone into this book, to make it this readable and interesting.

    The book holds out well throughout and is often enthralling, mainly because of how Taddeo has mixed the everyday, the mundane, and the extraordinary into one, thus formulating the sort of text that Marcel Proust and Maria Stepanova mastered.

    For the briefest of moments you want to reach across with your small hands that he loved—Does he still love them now? Where does the love of hands go when it dies?—and hold his face in them and say, Oh fuck I’m sorry for betraying you. I was terrifically hurt and angry, and you stole several years from my life. It wasn’t regular, what you did, and now here I am. Look at me. I put this war paint on, but underneath I’m scarred and scared and horny and tired and love you. I’ve gained thirty pounds. I’ve been kicked out of school a few times. My father has just killed himself. I take all these medications, look in my bag, there’s a shitload of them. I’m a girl with the pills of an old woman. I should be dating boys with weed breath but instead I fully personified my victim costume. I’m hanging by a fawn hanger at Party City. You never wrote back.

    It's a quite visceral book, keenly atoned to its subjects; the women aren't stereotypically written in any sense. Sure, one might be critical of some of their at-time leans, for example, "The Scorned Woman", but that's not stereotypical, but happens. A lot. And that's it, really. Taddeo has done away with the atypical and simply opted, it seems, for portraying women as women.

    His eyes come up off the table to meet yours. They are cold and black and dead. Little agates, gleaming and stern, and older than you remember. In fact, you don’t remember these eyes at all. They used to be filled with love, lust. He used to suck your tongue into his mouth as if he wanted another tongue.

    The stories are often of the sensual with humans in a modern age, although, as always, trapped in our past, unable to move away from headlights that are rushing towards us, Bambi in traffic. And it's thrilling. Taddeo's style is made for humanising sexuality, as opposed to the tripe that drips off Sex and The City, Fifty Shades of Gray, et al, which plagues much of current literature. This book does away with that and is lifted beyond. Thank Bog.

    She wasn’t quite sure there was no better partner, but she was willing to find out.

    The book seemed a bit dull for a short time but quickly picked up again. That's the harshest critique I can give it.

    The best thing about this book is that it revives a sense of honesty without shock, which hopefully will revitalise any lovelorn reader who has missed terse literature that brings to life that which many other authors have abused. Every paragraph can be separated from its chapter, and still be of use; it takes a special author to manage that.
  • (3/5)
    2.5 stars rounded up to a 3.

    The marketing on this book was so hyped that we picked it for our book club. I came so close so many times to not finishing it. For me, it did not live up to its hype. At All. I look forward to hearing what the other members think.

    I found the writing fragmented. The women, real, but not necessarily likable, except for Maggie, where your heart breaks for her. The stories seemed to drag on and at times were very boring. I was never sure what part was the women’s voice and what part was the author’s.
  • (4/5)
    This book was unlike anything I’d ever read before — nonfiction accounts of the sex lives of three real women, based on eight years of reporting by author Lisa Taddeo. But this was not some excuse for the creation of a titillating book. The depth with which Taddeo writes about each of these women gives them a profoundly human voice — flaws and all.I found myself alternately intrigued, sympathetic, frustrated, angry, sad...I *felt* with each woman a deep sisterhood. Even if I’d never before experienced what was being described, I could feel the depth of their emotions.The book left me frustrated because I know what I personally wanted as the resolution for each woman’s life. But life is never that simple, nor is it fair. The frustration I felt partly stemmed from wanting the book to continue: I want to know what happens to the women from here. I felt such a vested interest after reading the book. But perhaps it’s best to leave the unknown unknown, and thus leave me with a bit of optimism for these women’s futures.
  • (3/5)
    I mean, it's good if you like agony. Maybe you feel better about your own life when you read about people who are so flamboyantly messed up. I feel for Maggie. She got in over her head with a dirtbag. I liked Lena. She was trying to make the best of a bad situation and she had agency even if she didn't have great options. Sloane? Ugh. I feel sorry for her. Taddeo told these womens' stories with empathy and detail. A lot of detail. There is an element of voyeurism to this book. It's definitely emotionally gut wrenching stuff.
  • (4/5)
    I thought this book was fascinating and I really enjoyed the way the author made these non fiction stories read as though we were reading someone’s diary.
  • (4/5)
    I have never read a work of non-fiction that has read so much like fiction - highly engaging even if the premise is a little hard to explain.
  • (5/5)
    This was a very good book, but it was very difficult to finish. I felt like I was looking through these women’s underwear drawers- invading their (very, VERY) private lives. The material was intimate, sometimes disturbing, and my own reactions made me take a hard look at myself and my judgements.

    I don’t know if I’ll listen to it again, but only because of my own discomfort. It is an excellent book.
  • (5/5)
    Important and real. Very thought-provoking! Highly recommended to everyone as it is very relevant!
  • (5/5)
    Powerful, moving. A reminder of how The Dominant Narrative continues to suppress women and our voices
  • (3/5)
    Narrated by Tara Lynne Barr, Marin Ireland and Mena Suvari.  Not quite sure that the author's hours of interviews merited this work, and I'm not sure what the reasoning and meaning for its being is. But as a window into others' worlds it made for three very interesting stories, ones that made me realize there are probably hundreds of women out there with similar stories to Lina, Maggie and Sloane's. Strange to contemplate!
  • (5/5)
    I highly enjoyed this read as it delved into the thoughts and feelings of 3 different women in different places in life and different experiences that got them to the points they were. All 3 drastically different and approaching the subject matter in vastly different ways. Each tale however was an inside look at the many various ways of approaching topics like these and quite possibly in very different ways than the reader might approach in their own lives. These stories provided an opportunity to get out of self and look through the eyes of others on subjects some of us might otherwise by too shy or scared to view the lens of our own lives.
  • (5/5)
    A wise truth filled book. Everything I would want to tell my daughter about women men and sex, society, human nature and it’s incredibly engaging at the same time
  • (5/5)

    2 people found this helpful

    Her prose was astonishing.

    Every word counted, and every simile was chosen not from low-hanging fruit but from perhaps the quirkiness of the author herself (?) to represent these women’s experiences.

    She dissects personalities in a beautiful way, calling Sloane’s flirting skills “finely calibrated” and had a complete understanding of their respective psyches.

    She and David K. Shipler are the only nonfiction writers who meet my (okay, I admit) VERY high standards for writing. I want to learn something, and I want the writer to make me feel like I’m in the room with them. I will read her other books in a heartbeat.

    2 people found this helpful

  • (1/5)
    I had to stop listening after the first few minutes. Unfortunately, the narrator is monotone and has a very prominent lisp. As a speech therapist, it is impossible for me to mentally filter past this and consume the content of the book. Sorry!
  • (1/5)

    2 people found this helpful

    Heard this was good and I really wanted to listen to this book as I have a long daily commute. Unfortunately, the narrator has a strong lisp that makes listening to the book extremely difficult to do. I don’t have much time to sit and read but am definitely adding it to the my list of “sit-and-reads”!

    Note to the authors and publishers: Hire great narrators/voiceover actors to narrate your stories for audiobooks. I’ve seen and heard it do wonders. On the flip side, not having the right narrators/voiceover actors can have a negative effect on your stories.

    2 people found this helpful

  • (1/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    Sadly pathetic!! A sad story of three women who have been fcked over by men. Definitely NOT a story of desire!!

    1 person found this helpful

  • (1/5)
    Congratulations Lisa Taddeo, you have taken all the fun out of sex, you have made women's desire synonymous with rape, abuse, dysfunction, and rejection. You have subscribed to the old trope that women don't really like sex, they just do it to feel loved and safe. This is the most regressive anti-feminist book I have read this year, possibly in the past decade but I would have to think about that. By calling this a book about women's desire (not just the pathetic lurid tales of three specific females, which is what it is), you paint all women with your sad, lonely, weak, needy, passionless brush. There are plenty of women who have affairs because they enjoy it, who participate in polyamory because they find it hot, who have hot-for-teacher relationships in college when they are consenting adults and the affair is just against college rules, not the rules of decency. Those are stories of desire, and that is what Taddeo purports to write about. That was my biggest problem with this book, but there are others.Almost as infuriating was Taddeo's claim she was using the actual words of her subjects. There are many reasons I don't believe her, and they start with the first story about her mother getting followed daily on her walk home from school by an old man who jerked off while walking down the lane behind her. (That is some talent even in a young spry guy. I imagine its hard to walk and masturbate simultaneously.) She says her mother told her that the man's penis was long and skinny. Because her mother is not identified as crazy, I am going to assume that when she shared this story she did not provide descriptions of the penis. Who would describe an abuser's penis to their child? I raised my child in a sex positive home, I talked about sex openly. And it would never have occurred to me to describe a penis. I am also someone who was raped in college when I was very drunk, and I talk about that too because I think it is instructive for many reasons. In talking about my rape it would never occur to me to describe the physical attributes of my rapist's penis. Obviously I was not present when Taddeo talked to her mother, but I feel pretty certain about this.There is another reason I don't believe Taddeo is using her subjects' words. I lived in Fargo for two years right after the Knodel trial. I was in an Executive Director position with a college in the area. (Weird coincidence, someone who had been on the team I led testified at the trial, and she was mentioned by name in the book!) My students were mostly from the region, many of them from West Fargo High and a few from Sheyenne High (it was brand new so we only had one or two graduating classes from there.) I have not one speck of doubt that none of my students ever talked like this version of Maggie with her flowery metaphors and Deep Thoughts. Even the Theater, Literature and Classics majors did not talk like that, and they had been educated at a decent liberal arts college. Maggie has nothing beyond a high school education (unless you count the single year at NDSU where she flunked out) and she thought Twilight was great literature. North Dakotans are efficient and plain-spoken people. People with PhD's thought it was pretentious when I used the word "whom" or "alumna." None of them would say that the taste of beer on someone's breath is the taste of desire. None. For all the women there is a lot of discussion of the tastes and smells of things, and they are things normal people don't say. The worst was when Taddeo wrote that the wine at Lena's gathering "tasted like pool sneezes." Nope. She might be telling her version of their story, but she is not using their words to do it. The disconnect was worst with Maggie but it was still clear that none of those women said 90+% of the things with which they are credited.In the end she told her version of the stories of three women who were victims of abuse, and who assessed their worth by whether particular men wanted to fuck them. Maggie was almost certainly the victim of abuse at Knodel's hands. Even if he never laid a hand on her, the manipulation evidenced in his notes to her is at least as abusive as the sexual acts. That said, she was drawn to daddy figures and had already had an affair with another adult male who took advantage of her instability. I am not blaming her at all, but she has issues that predate the abuse by her teacher and which were almost certainly exacerbated by that event that she needs to address. Lena was too sad to even consider, with her drama queen aches and pains that magically disappeared when she was having sex with an intellectually porous man who could not have cared less about her. Her poor kids. It was so uncomfortable to read about her begging a man to have sex with her even after he made clear he was not interested. Nothing she did was about sex, it was about self-hatred. Maybe that stemmed from her rape and things she didn't deal with. Some of the issue surely rested there, but there were other things too. To me it seemed Taddeo abused Lena by even working with her. Lena was constantly looking for people to whom she could tell her story -- the storytelling was part of her pathology. I suspect at least part of that was because she wanted people to know that a man found her sexually appealing, but in general she was a deeply lonely and entirely self-involved person who got off on attention of any kind. Giving her this soapbox is like giving fentanyl to an opioid addict. And Sloan. That was heartbreaking. A smart, talented, beautiful woman who spends her life deploying her sexuality only for the pleasure of her husband (she is largely incapable of orgasm according to the book) because she has craves adoration. It broke my heart.That is the story of female desire? As a female who has entirely sexual and sensual desires, and has friends who also have real desires, I assure you it is not. It is a perpetuation of the second wave feminism "women are victims" falsehood that keeps healthy women feeling nothing but shame and otherness with respect to their own sexuality. (Andrea Dworkin and her "all heterosexual sex is rape" garbage.) There is a story to be told about women being unable to find happiness and a sense of self worth without the validation that comes from inspiring an erection. (That is good and pleasant validation, but God help anyone for whom that is the only source of validation.) This was a sad and misleading book that preyed on the despair of three women, and provided no context for any larger truths to emerge, no scientific method. I feel like like I just hid in the bushes and looked through my neighbor's window. Man this is tawdry.
  • (1/5)

    2 people found this helpful

    do not recommend the audiobook version, the narrator does not make the book interesting at all.

    2 people found this helpful

  • (5/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    All women need to read/listen to this book and see he often we are our own worst enemies. Keep telling these stories. And write some about the good men out there.

    1 person found this helpful