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Three Women

A groundbreaking portrait of erotic longing in today’s America

By Lisa Taddeo
15-minute read
Audio available
Three Women by Lisa Taddeo

Three Women delves into the depth and complexity of female desire by telling the stories of Maggie, Lina and Sloane, three ordinary American women whose lives are filled with unspoken needs, romantic hopes and sexual obsessions. Following them over the course of eight years, author Lisa Taddeo turns their everyday experiences into universal stories about love, loss and lust, painting a vivid picture of what it feels like to be a woman in our day and age.

  • Women of all ages and persuasions
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Lisa Taddeo is an American writer and journalist whose work has appeared in New York Magazine, Esquire and Elle. She has won two Pushcart Prizes, for her short stories 42 and Suburban Weekend. Three Women is her much-anticipated first book.

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Three Women

By Lisa Taddeo
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
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Three Women by Lisa Taddeo
Synopsis

Three Women delves into the depth and complexity of female desire by telling the stories of Maggie, Lina and Sloane, three ordinary American women whose lives are filled with unspoken needs, romantic hopes and sexual obsessions. Following them over the course of eight years, author Lisa Taddeo turns their everyday experiences into universal stories about love, loss and lust, painting a vivid picture of what it feels like to be a woman in our day and age.

Key idea 1 of 9

Cast out by family and friends, Maggie was drawn into an improper relationship with her high school teacher.

For teens, it’s often normal to feel lonely and misunderstood. But some teens have it worse than others. And for some, like Maggie, the helping hand that extends to pull them out of their misery only pulls them deeper into the abyss.

Maggie Wilken was raised by loving parents in Fargo, a conservative small town in North Dakota. Her dad was a big man who gave the best hugs in the world, and her mom was quiet and caring. Maggie’s troubles began when she had sex for the first time. The man she slept with was Mateo, a 31-year-old army buddy of her brother-in-law whom she’d met while visiting her sister’s family in Hawaii. Maggie was only sixteen at the time. When they found out, her Catholic family didn’t take it well. They made her get a pregnancy test and even took her to a psychiatrist, who prescribed Maggie all kinds of drugs. 

But the worst was yet to come. In school, a friend of Maggie’s told their classmates what had happened. The rumors spread quickly, and slurs soon began to be hurled her way. People called Maggie things like “whore,” and even her friends began avoiding her. She felt dirty and alone.

Only one person still seemed to care about Maggie: her favorite teacher, Mr. Knodel. Aaron Knodel was a handsome, popular young English teacher. He was married, with two kids, and had an honest passion for his job. He would often stay after class to talk with Maggie, and she trusted him. In a letter, she told him about what had happened in Hawaii and the abuse she had suffered since. Mr. Knodel consoled her, telling her that she had done nothing wrong. 

After the talk, Knodel followed up by sending Maggie text messages, and she felt that there was finally someone who understood and cared for her. She felt flattered by the increasingly affectionate attention she received from Knodel, too. But as the text messages continued during winter break, she also sensed that their relationship was beginning to cross normal teacher-student boundaries.

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