10 need-to-knows about Lisa Taddeo’s book, Three Women


To celebrate the paperback launch of the most talked about book last year, Lisa Taddeo’s international bestseller, Three Women, we teamed up with the author herself and Bloomsbury Publishing to host a live reader event.

The book is a work of non-fiction that explores female sexuality and desire through the lives of three female protagonists: Maggie, Lina and Sloane. In the Prologue, Lisa explains:

“Female desire can be just as bullish as male desire, and when desire was propulsive, when it was looking for an end it could control, my interest waned. But the stories wherein desire was something that could not be controlled, when the object of desire dictated the narrative, that was where I found the most magnificence, the most pain.”


Together with Lisa, we invited a lineup of inspiring guest speakers, and fans of the book, to read from its pages. We were joined by famed poet, illustrator and author Rupi Kaur, Golden Globe and Olivier nominated actor Hayley Atwell, best-selling author Jessie Burton and renowned bookstagrammer Zubs J Malik.

Here are 10 things revealed during the event that you need to know about this groundbreaking book, and what went into making it happen. WARNING: contains spoilers.

1. Lisa spent eight years immersed in the lives of the three women

To understand the three women’s stories in depth, Lisa spent eight years and thousands of hours uncovering their most intimate truths. In two cases, she literally relocated to their hometowns.

2. The book started with more than three women

The first draft included 20 people, each with unique stories and desires. After months spent delving into the lives and stories of her subjects, Lisa whittled it down to Maggie, Lina and Sloane. The reason being that these women willingly shared every facet of their personal lives with her:

“They gave me so much insight into their lives, as you can imagine getting someone to talk about sex - and not even just sex, their deepest desires and pain and passion - is not easy, and it’s certainly not sustainable. These three women were willing to let me in, in a way that nobody else really was.”

3. This is the reason Lisa had to include her mother in the Prologue

Lisa speaks candidly in the Prologue of a shocking encounter her mother experienced as a young Italian woman. In doing so, Lisa sought to explore challenging aspects of her mother's identity as a way of relating to the three women featured in the book. 

“I wanted to give something of myself that wasn’t exactly something that I was necessarily proud of, and I wanted to level the playing field in that regard... One of the reasons I did begin with my mother was that after having spoken to so many women for so long, I saw how much the weight of their mothers sat upon their chest still.” 

4. Of the three women, Lisa found Lina first and was immediately captivated by her all-consuming sexual desire 

Lina was the first person Lisa found who shared her innermost sexual desires.

The first draft included 20 people, each with unique stories and desires. After months spent delving into the lives and stories of her subjects, Lisa whittled it down to Maggie, Lina and Sloane. The reason being that these women willingly shared every facet of their personal lives with her:

 “Lina was the beating heart of passion and pain, it was passion materialised into a human being and she was also just so honest.”

She was married to a man who refused to kiss her on the mouth for years. Lina demanded and sought out more, refusing to deny herself physical touch; she would willingly “drive four hours for 30 minutes with a man she knew wasn’t going to leave his wife for her.” 

5. The youngest woman in the book, Maggie, OVERCOMES her past 

Maggie, the youngest protagonist in the book, is allegedly sexually abused by her English teacher at the age of 17 and is subsequently “ruined” after reporting it at the age of 23. Throughout court proceedings Maggie is made to feel insignificant in comparison to her teacher, who is North Dakota’s ‘Teacher of the Year’. Public shame and dismissal of her truth proceeds, and as readers we are left wondering about her future. Cut to present day and Maggie is in a good place. She’s now a social worker helping young women like herself share their stories.

6. Of the three women, Lisa found Lina first and was immediately captivated by her all-consuming sexual desire

Lisa saw herself in each of the three women in the book. However, it was Lina who she related to the most. Lina challenges societal stereotypes of what it means to be a feminist with unashamed desire.The first draft included 20 people, each with unique stories and desires. After months spent delving into the lives and stories of her subjects, Lisa whittled it down to Maggie, Lina and Sloane. The reason being that these women willingly shared every facet of their personal lives with her:

“She comes from a very Catholic, very strict moral place and so, a lot of people wouldn’t call Lina a feminist based upon her window dressing but she was one of the most feminist women, feminist-thinking women, that I’ve come across.”She was married to a man who refused to kiss her on the mouth for years. Lina demanded and sought out more, refusing to deny herself physical touch; she would willingly “drive four hours for 30 minutes with a man she knew wasn’t going to leave his wife for her.”

7. Sloane describes her marriage as “sexuality without boundaries”

Sloane is a restaurant owner who is happily married. Together with her husband, they invite different sexual partners into the relationship but she’s reluctant to call it swinging.The first draft included 20 people, each with unique stories and desires. After months spent delving into the lives and stories of her subjects, Lisa whittled it down to Maggie, Lina and Sloane. The reason being that these women willingly shared every facet of their personal lives with her:

“Swinging is a word that belongs to another time, to people who are not Sloane. She is refined and so are her world, her bedsheets, her brain. It is more like sexuality without boundaries, but not in a hedonistic, hipster sense.” 

8. This book was Lisa’s therapy 

Uncovering the stories of the three female protagonists, and their truths, without judgement was a cathartic experience for Lisa.

“I had come from a lot of loss right before I started writing the book, and I also have multiple anxiety issues that are just through the roof, so for me coming to these stories... It was cathartic. To not only listen to those women - and to all of the people I spoke to - but to kind of be a sounding board for them. It made me feel like I was giving back in a sense.” 

9. A TV series and new book are on the cards

Three Women is coming to a TV screen near you! It’s going to be a limited series for American cable network, Showtime. Lisa didn’t give away too much about the cast, but you can guarantee it’s going to be incredible.

And... BREAKING NEWS: Lisa is publishing a novel next summer. Excited much?

10. Lisa has maintained relationships with all three women from the book

Lisa is still in touch with Maggie, Lina and Sloane. In fact, she speaks to Maggie almost every day.

“Women across the world have made Maggie feel like she told her story for a reason… . Lina is doing well, in a new relationship and out of her marriage and she’s really, really great. And Sloane is still happily married, I think that’s one of the things that is often missed about Sloane is that she is in a happy marriage - and of course there are difficulties and confusion, but so too is there in any relationship.” 

 


Want to listen to the webinar for yourself? Watch the live event in full below. The readings from these women are incredible and if you haven’t yet read Three Women you’re going to want to… and if you have, you’ll be pulling it off the bookshelf again. Fact.