While on vacation this summer I read Lisa Taddeo’s new book, Three Women. To say it was arresting would be an understatement. It is a striking non-fiction work about women and desire, women and sex, but most of all, women and loneliness.
Taddeo spent eight years researching this book, covering the lives of women across the U.S. in their most intimate spaces. The result is a portrait of three women in very different places in life, but all desirous, lonely, empty and fulfilled by turns. Lina pulls away from a loveless marriage and begins an affair with her high school sweetheart. Maggie endures a statutory rape trial while mentally reliving the relationship she shared with her high school teacher. Sloane is a happily married woman whose husband enjoys choosing other men for her to sleep with. All of their swirls of emotion are painfully familiar despite their varied situations: an ache for acceptance, a reckoning with the past, isolated loneliness and attempts to escape it, lusty desire, self-doubt and self-examination in equal measure. Taddeo does a masterful job of creating something far beyond journalism; she paints the lives of these women in a way that is both personal and universal, and she makes sure to give each agency over her own story in the process.
Three Women is a must-read. Add it to your summer reading list if you haven’t already, and prepare for a book that will affect you profoundly.