{Book Review} Three Women by Lisa Taddeo

Three Women is a book about the sex lives of three American women. It was our Book of the Month in February’s book club and from the book’s description I thought I picked up a Fifty Shades of Grey style kinkfest of a novel… with better storytelling. The book states it’s a portrait of erotic longing, detailing the complexity and inequality of women’s desire; the deepest non-fiction portrait of desire ever written.

I finished to book within the day and yes, I loved it. Albeit, I used the tissues on my nightstand for a different purpose, to wipe away a tear or two. I don’t find the book to be about desire, nor is it uplifting in any way; I find it to be about trauma. How trauma dictates women’s perception of themselves, their self respect, self esteem, their agency and mental health. How alienating and isolating it can be.

I found the women’s trauma to be present throughout the book, an inescapable emotional third party that is ever present in the dialogues, thoughts, actions, and even throughout the sex scenes – I read about the threesome and could not think of anything but the extent that past trauma influences our present choices. And could not help but feel saddened.

The book transgresses the line between real life and fiction – it’s a book based on women’s real stories, but written in fiction style. It’s confronting as the feelings and emotions are microscopically detailed and I had to constantly remind myself ‘This is not fiction, this is not fiction, this is not fiction.’

It does offer great insight into what often remains unsaid and quite often still taboo. Even when women are being heard, it is often the right types of women who are actively heard. White ones. Rich ones. Pretty ones. Young ones. Best to be all those things at once.

Is Three Women empowering? Yes, if you’ve experienced trauma, cannot talk about it, if you’re feeling alone and voiceless.

Would I recommend Three Women? Yes and here are 3 main ideas that stayed with me.

We pretend to want things we don’t want so nobody can see us not getting what we need.

Sometimes there’s nothing better on earth than someone asking you a question.

The behaviour of a human being in sexual matters is often a prototype for the whole of his other modes of reaction in life. {Freud}

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