Book Review: Three Women by Lisa Taddeo

by | Book Recommendations, Book Review

A true story about the sex lives of three American women, based on a decade of reporting and research, Three Women is a novel about three heart-breaking real women and their experiences with desire. Or rather, trauma.

There’s Maggie, a seventeen-year-old high school student who allegedly has a relationship with a married English teacher. There’s Lina, a homemaker and mother of two whose marriage has lost its passion as she is having a passionate affair behind her husband’s back. And finally, there’s Sloane, a restaurant owner who is happily married to a man who likes to watch her have sex with other men.

Three Women is an exploration of how women’s sex lives are influenced by and controlled by men. Depicting the very present reality of gender inequality in America as men punish women for their desire, whether that is a young girl being taken advantage of or a woman feeling trapped in a loveless marriage. This is a novel depicting how male exploitation does not discriminate between the different types of women. 

Taddeo’s writing is consistently amazing and engaging as she inhabits each of her three subjects, making them seem real to her readers. Each woman has their own distinctive voice as the narrative unfolds from each of their own perspectives. It is almost entertaining at times as Taddeo writes with excessive detail, especially when it comes to the sex. Although supposedly a non-fiction novel, Three Women reads like a pleasurable, even enjoyable story as we’re drawn into each woman’s life, relating to their stories with no judgement whatsoever. 

The book also deals with extremely triggering matters such as sexual assault, suicide and depression. It is sad and a disturbingly grim, discomforting reality of the lives of three very real women in America. Three very real women who may represent many other women in the world.

My only problem with this book is the controversy that there is no overarching authorial voice as Taddeo’s voice gets intermingled with the three women’s voices, thus meaning the novel lacks a definitive moral conclusion. Yet, despite this, this book will stay with me for a long time as I ponder on the courage of these three women in revealing the true reality of themselves, their lives, their experiences with a raw honesty that will make you both laugh and cry.


Three Women is a graphic and powerful interrogation of female desire in contemporary America. A non-fiction, debut novel follows three women: Lina, Maggie and Sloane as Lisa Taddeo catalogues eight years of research about the disturbing truths of desire, power and sex.

You can purchase this book here.

Words and photo by Lucy Lillystone. Blog: Local Bibliophile.


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