September 04

Three Women by Lisa Taddeo

I literally just finished this book minutes ago and here I am furiously trying to get my head together because Readheads, we NEED to talk about it.

This is an incredible book (I think it has a gazillion awards too) but let’s just take a sweet moment to consider how these three women came to be in these pages.  The author not only interviewed the three women – Maggie, Lina and Sloane – over years and years but she also moved to the towns they lived in to witness their lives, talk to their friends and she crossed the United States 6 times – hello SIX – just to capture each story in detail.

So you must be thinking right about now, wowee, these women’s tales must be incredible, front page, hold the phone Joan varieties. And they kinda are.  Just in the most ordinary, everyday way.

These women aren’t famous.  Unless you live in their towns, you won’t know them.  Each simply has a universal story and they were honest enough, open enough and strong enough to allow Taddeo inside.

This book is not fictionalised in any way rather it is a detailed, journalistic foray into the most significant, life-altering sexual relationships the women have experienced.    They represent that old chestnut –  ‘the female struggle to enjoy sexual freedom without judgement, punishment and loathing’.  It is not the most pleasant of reads, but it sure is an enlightening one.

Taddeo handles each story with the TLC it deserves and while the epilogue gently and softly concludes their experiences, it by no means shows any optimism about female sexual empowerment and equality so please pop this on your book club must-read list.  There is so much to get heated about.

I have heard some reviews say this book is erotica. Que?   That is not a word I would use.  There is a lot of sex in it but I don’t think it will kick start any quasi-sexual revolution like 50 Shades of Grey reportedly did.  Funnily enough though, that book features in one of the women’s stories – Sloane’s.

Sloane and her husband are wealthy middle aged swingers who have threesomes.  50 Shades of Grey was Sloane’s becoming because she felt it normalised her life, her desires.   It freed her mind and guilt – even though she most certainly was not free.

Our other two women are Maggie and Lina.

Maggie had an illegal, underage sexual relationship with a popular male teacher during high school and never recovered – he of course did.  Lina rekindles a school romance, ending her marriage to be with her high school sweetheart only to remain the other woman.

Each of the women knowingly and unknowingly  use sex to please yet are punished – subtly and sometimes publicly because of it.  Each woman does things they cannot and must not get caught doing.  It is secrets, hypocrisy and lies.  This is the never ending story where sex is weaponised and sadly, men, more often that not, walk a freer path.   I don’t see this as a #meetoo memo but I can see Women’s Studies’ tutorials being lit up after reading this book.  Oh, to be there!

Taddeo does an insanely beautiful job telling Sloane’s, Lina’s and Maggie’s stories – she is detailed and precise about what takes place, her use of language is sublime and she treats the three women with profound respect and care. I am sending each one my love.

Actually, I wonder if they each met the other?  I hope so.  But if they haven’t, now that is one dinner party I want an invite too!

But that is just my two cents worth.