Three Women by Lisa Taddeo
It’s safe to say that you’ll be reading (or have already read) a lot of breathless and emotional endorsements for this book from readers far and wide – and this extraordinary piece of nonfiction deserves every single one. I really haven’t ever read anything like it. To produce this incredible piece of work, writer Lisa Taddeo embarked upon a unique immersion project, following the lives of three women over the course of eight years. In the compassionate embrace of Taddeo’s very fine prose, readers will come to know and feel the heartbreak of Lina, Maggie, and Sloane, and their basic needs to be loved and wanted. The writer moved to the towns where they lived, she talked and corresponded with them for thousands of hours, and was sometimes witness to the events she describes.
The result of this extensive research and the testimonies of its subjects is Three Women, an intense and brutally honest portrait of female sexual desire, pain, disappointment, longing, and despair, which documents the lasting impact of childhood trauma, and the structures of patriarchy (yes, it’s still a thing) which provide the architecture for the small and large losses endured by women everywhere every single day. This book is for women to know themselves, but for men to know and understand the pain and embodied experience of being female. It’s testament to what the feminists of the 1970s wanted us to know too: that the personal is political; that the experiences of the individual contribute to collective oppression; that acknowledging women’s sexuality and desire is central to true emancipation.
It must be pointed out that this is Taddeo’s debut, which in itself is astonishing given the book’s many accomplishments. This work is a masterclass in empathy and shows how writing can be an act of and for humanity. Three Women is a significant book, and I hope many fruitful long-overdue conversations will follow its release. It is undoubtedly one of the books of the year.