August 5, 2019 | in

Three Women

All Lina wanted was to be desired. How did she end up in a marriage with two children and a husband who wouldn’t touch her?

All Maggie wanted was to be understood. How did she end up in a relationship with her teacher and then in court, a hated pariah in her small town?

All Sloane wanted was to be admired. How did she end up a sexual object of men, including her husband, who liked to watch her have sex with other men and women?

Critics and Taddeo’s contemporaries have heaped praised on her debut novel. Marian Keyes stated that Three Women is ‘indescribably magnificent’ while Jojo Moyes believed that it was ‘as unputdownable as the most page-turning fiction’. Observer claimed that ‘reading Three Women is like reading the diary you could have never hoped to write’ and Caitlin Moran said that she would ‘probably re-read it every year of [her] life’. New Statesmen claimed that Lisa Taddeo’s debut is a ‘once-in-a-geration book that every house should have a copy of’, while Evening Standard stated that Taddeo has ‘spawned a new genre’. Esquire claimed that Three Women is ‘the book every man should read this summer’.

Check out our interview with the author of Three Women, Lisa Taddeo.

When did you first develop a passion for writing? 

As a child, reading Stephen King. I’d read all of my father’s books, at the town pool; they’d be wet around the edges and unbelievably thrilling. 

Even before that, before I could read, I used to swap in a word of my own for each word in a book, and tell my own stories to a collection of stuffed animals. A rapt audience indeed.

What was your writing process for Three Women

Finding the women was the hardest part of the process. I drove across the country six times. I posted on Craigslist. I posted on Facebook. I posted on message boards. I handed out business cards in sleepy surf towns, taped messages on Starbucks bulletin boards, university bulletin boards, gas station windows, at churches and temples and grocery stores. 

I found Lina after starting a discussion group in Indiana. After she agreed to talk to me, I would shadow her. Go the gym with her, go food shopping. I would be with her all day then transcribe at night and then write through the transcriptions during the weekend, or while looking for the next subject. So it was observing as much as I could (as much as they could let me) and then writing about what I’d seen or taped the rest of the time. 

What inspired you to write Three Women?

The genesis was to take the pulse of sexuality and desire in American today. A sort of updating of Gay Talese’s Thy Neighbor’s Wife, but from a female perspective. Desire is at once all we about and talk about, andour glassiest secret. I wanted to explore the nuance of that intersection. 

Why do you think it was so important to share Lina, Maggie and Sloane’s stories?

Because comprehending someone’s heartache is, sadly, very often the only way to stop condemning them. Maggie, Sloane, and Lina want to be loved, and they want to love, and they do and they have had moments of exhilaration and have given up a lot for those moments. They want to live life, even when it goes against their religion, their families, their societies. I very much admire people who forgo blazing experiences in favor of “the right path,” but I also admire the polar opposite. And these women lived between both poles, as I think we all do at varying points in our lives.

Why do you think readers will connect with the book’s protagonists?

Because they are all of us. We are all of them. Doesn’t matter what the window dressings are. We all want to be seen. I hope, in fact, that these stories open up the doors for more women (+ all genders, races, religions) to tell their own stories. 

What advice would you give to emerging writers?

Call the person you want to write for very early in the morning, when they have just gotten to the office.

Content supplied with the assistance of Bloomsbury

TitleThree Women
AuthorLisa Taddeo