Let’s Talk About Sex! Three Women Explores Female Desire

by  | September 9

If you’re a reader and follow bookstagram, you’ve likely seen Three Women in your newsfeed. It was one of the buzziest books of the season. Per the title, the book follows three women who live in different parts of the country to recount their sexual experiences. Journalist Lisa Taddeo embedded herself in the lives and hometowns of these women during the course of eight years in order to chronicle their stories.

First, we meet Lina, who is married to a man who no longer enjoys a physical relationship with her. When she reconnects with her high school sweetheart through Facebook, she can’t help but rekindle a romance with her old flame. In her small Indiana town, Lina finds ways to sneak away to be with her lover.

Second, we meet Maggie Wilken, who was a seventeen-year-old high school student when she began a sexual relationship with her charismatic and handsome teacher, Aaron Knodel. What began as conversations over text and phone calls evolves into a physical relationship. Things take a turn when people start to suspect their relationship. Years later, when Maggie learns that Aaron has been named North Dakota’s Teacher of the Year, she speaks out about their illicit affair and how he manipulated her.

Third, we meet Sloane, who is a gorgeous and successful restaurant owner in an exclusive enclave in the Northeast. She and her husband are happily married, but they have a relationship that may make others raise a brow. Sloane’s husband enjoys observing his wife in sexual encounters with other people. He picks out partners for her and watches as they engage in sexual acts, occasionally participating in threesomes with her and one of the other partners.

The women’s stories are depicted throughout the book, with alternating chapters detailing each woman’s story. The women’s names were changed in the book to protect their identities and those of their loved ones, with the exception of Maggie Wilken and Aaron Knodel, whose story was already publicly available through court records. 

Women are often judged harshly about their sexual choices by society and, in these stories, by their family and friends, too. Hopefully, these women’s raw and intimate stories will make conversations about female desire less taboo, along with an understanding that women’s choices are often complex. For these women and many others, sex is so much more than the physical act.

In this video, Lisa Taddeo shares why she decided to write this book and talks more about the stories of these three women and the thousands of hours she spent with them.

During her book tour, Lisa stopped by Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn, where she discussed the book in an interview with Katie Couric. Our video team was able to capture part of the event, so even if you couldn’t attend one of her events you can still check it out!

Three Women

Three Women

by Lisa Taddeo

Desire as we’ve never seen it before: a riveting true story about the sex lives of three real American women, based on nearly a decade of reporting.

It thrills us and torments us. It controls our thoughts, destroys our lives, and it’s all we live for. Yet we almost never speak of it. And as a buried force in our lives, desire remains largely unexplored—until now. Over the past eight years, journalist Lisa Taddeo has driven across the country six times to embed herself with ordinary women from different regions and backgrounds. The result, Three Women, is the deepest nonfiction portrait of desire ever written and one of the most anticipated books of the year.

Based on years of immersive reporting, and told with astonishing frankness and immediacy, Three Women is a groundbreaking portrait of erotic longing in today’s America, exposing the fragility, complexity, and inequality of female desire with unprecedented depth and emotional power. It is both a feat of journalism and a triumph of storytelling, brimming with nuance and empathy, that introduces us to three unforgettable women—and one remarkable writer—whose experiences remind us that we are not alone.

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Photo Credit // Avid Reader Press

Categories // Bookish Fun

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Saimah works on the Corporate Digital Marketing team at Simon & Schuster. She is a fan of dystopian fiction, celeb memoirs, contemporary rom-coms and murder mysteries. When she's not reading, she is binge-watching her favorite shows, exploring the best rooftop bars in the city and watching sports. Follow her on Instagram at @fire.escape.reads!