16 July 2021

Three Women by Lisa Taddeo

This book came out in 2019 and I remember it getting a lot of attention. A few people I know had picked it up and I remember Belletrist promoting it hard on their social media accounts. I was looking around Indigo for books I wanted to ask for for Christmas and noticed they had this one on sale for $15. I decided to add it to the cart and am finally getting around to it in 2021. 

Three Women is the first book I've ever read by Lisa Taddeo. It is 304 pages long and is a non-fiction account of three women and their personal/sexual lives. Taddeo spent almost ten years researching the book and interviewing her subjects. The book opens with an overview of the research materials and how Taddeo pulled it all together. Like all my favourite non-fiction books, Three Women is very much "literary non-fiction." 

In order of my interest, the three women focused on in this book are: Sloane, Maggie, and Lina. Sloane is a restaurant owner whose husband likes to watch her sleep with other people. Their relationship is super loving and they are deeply connected. I loved reading about Sloane's backstory ... her eating disorders and cold family upbringing. Near the end of the book she mentions her greatest fantasy - her husband completing a "to do" list properly and without having to be asked. I know this sounds funny, but it actually reads super seriously and was weirdly moving.

A lifetime of nothing bad happening and all around, sunshine and bright green grass."

Maggie is the youngest subject of Three Women. Her story involves an alleged sexual relationship with her current high school teacher. Years after he breaks contact with her, she decided to report him and goes to trial. Maggie definitely feels like Taddeo's biggest focal point and her sections are definitely the most upsetting. I feel like there is so much more conversation around grooming and believing women, so reading something set in the 2000s. 

There are people out there who are like the trains in the distance, glorious and forward-moving and unswerving, and she wants to be one of these. But sometimes she falls on the sword of her own desire. And lies there, and repents too late, and too incorrectly, for anyone to want to save her." 

Lisa Taddeo

The final story interwoven throughout this book is Lina's. She is a married woman with children who begins having an affair with a guy she went to high school with. I initially found Lina to be kind of annoying and self centered, but then Taddeo tackles why women are so judgmental and critical of those in Lina's situation. It honestly made me feel kind of ashamed of my initial reaction to her story. 

Lina's story is tied at the end to this idea that you should never let anyone else see how happy you are - especially other women. A mother tells her daughter this while on her deathbed. Taddeo says: 

I observed the same dynamics when I spoke to others about Sloane and Lina - especially the people closest to them, their friends and neighbours. It felt as though, with desire, nobody wanted anyone else, particularly a woman, to feel it."

The more I sit and think on this book, the more I appreciate it. Taddeo is a really talented writer and expertly covers the three storylines. She also wrote an excellent epilogue which really gives a sense of finality to the stories. Taddeo recently put out a brand new book (her first novel) called Animal, and after reading Three Women I could easily see myself picking it up!

No comments:

Post a Comment