I appreciate the diversity of experiences in Three Women and how it shows that what is considered a ‘normal’ romance or relationship is not everyone’s experience. And if this much range can be found in only three stories, imagine the number of ‘different’ relationships being experienced throughout the world. I’d like to think that this book could inspire people to have the courage to fight for the type of situation that would make them happy rather than settling for what is expected. While I wish the range of women portrayed here could have been more diverse, besides socioeconomically, I don’t think it takes away from the stories being told.
I think it’s easy to focus on how ‘scandalous’ the love lives of these three women are and forget to pay attention to the context. Something that Taddeo drives home in the epilogue; that innate fear as a woman that if you’re too happy and the world knows it, someone (or something) will make it their mission to knock you down a peg. I know there are a lot of other working parts here, but that’s the one that resonated the most with me on this read. I’m pretty sure the last time I read Three Women, I was much more focused on who holds power in a relationship and how much that can fluctuate depending on each partner’s wants and needs. It feels like this is a book you could read at different times in your life from a different perspective each time, taking something new away from these women and their stories.
The amount of time and work that went into Three Women is evident by the amount of detail in these stories. Taddeo dug incredibly deep into these women’s lives to provide context for their relationships. It’s very easy to get caught up in these stories and forget that this is narrative non-fiction. I will admit that this book was likely marketed incorrectly as a ‘feat of journalism‘ or even as a book about desire. While I appreciate the detail in these stories, it probably should not have taken ‘nearly a decade’ to put them together (unless you’ve got a lot of other things going on at the same time), and although the stories these women tell are interesting, they’re not particularly mindblowing or unique (which in some cases is unfortunate due to the level of abuse). And, often, desire is the last thing on your mind while reading Three Women; I was much more focused on the trauma and emotional baggage. Sure, Maggie desired a teenage vampiric relationship, Lina desires a passionate relationship, and Sloane desires to be wanted above others by her husband, but these are more the foundation than the lesson. I think most people who can overlook societal norms would be able to take away something from this book if they ignore most of the marketing done to advertise it.