Bloomsbury Circus, $32.99 pb, 320 pp, 9781526611635
Lina. Maggie. Sloane. These are the women – real women, albeit with their names changed – in whose intimate lives Lisa Taddeo invested eight years of her own. She spoke to these women daily, uprooting herself to chronicle and share their worlds. Taddeo’s goal was to reveal the hidden desires and erotic longings of women. She does so, and the result is revelatory – few works are so absorbing or addictive.
Taddeo’s commitment to her craft is inspiring. She gained the trust and confidence of these women, so much so that she became a voyeur in their lives – a voyeur with permission to articulate and express their inner worlds, including the unflattering parts. For this, Three Women is and will remain an exceptional piece of creative non-fiction.
Elizabeth Gilbert compares the work to Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. This comparison works to the extent that both Taddeo and Capote went to extraordinary lengths over long periods of time to immerse themselves in stories other writers ignored. As a result, they were able to retell events from a vantage point that most journalism and traditional non-fiction can’t match, creating the feel and flow of fiction. But in Three Women there is no one-of-a-kind crime. Instead, the everyday truths of women are given prominence – an uncommon experience in literature. From this intimate perspective, we witness everything from the death of desire, to the sexual fantasies a submissive wife plays out for her dominant husband, to underage grooming by a teacher.