I am gonna skip the apologies for being MIA. Firstly, I am going to be coming and going sporadically, mostly focusing on reviews, since this is the only kind of thing I have time for now. I hope that’s okay. In the meantime, I have gotten… more adjusted to audiobooks (I still don’t like them per se, but they are great for my long commute to uni). However, only non-fiction or contemporaries work for me in audiobook form, so I decided to pick up finally Three Women, which has been EVERYWHERE and which I wanted to read ever since it came out. And it’s a really good audiobook I would recommend it. But… what did I think of the actual book?
First of all, let’s talk expectations. Here is what the blurb promises and what were my expectations for this book:
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.
That is not what this book is. If you go into this book with these expectations, you will be disappointed.
What this book actually is is a really detailed, extremely literary, but also extremely graphic portrayal of the sex lives of three women from America. If no one told you that this was a non-fiction book, you would have absolutely no idea. If this was a novel about three women, I would have absolutely loved it, but it lacked any sort of meta-analytical overview from the author. You could not tell where the author herself was positioned, which I find is important in a non-fiction book.
This is incredibly well written and at times really intricately told and laid out, however, at times, it also feels voyeuristic – this stems from the fact that there’s no overarching theme or point being made about the lives and desires of these women, it’s just a really detailed report, mostly about their sex lives. As such, this book often goes into a lot of details, but the point of it is never stressed. Moreover, I was bothered by the blurring of the lines – I could never tell what of the thoughts, feelings, conclusions the women made were their own, and what came from the author. Sometimes, the women would reflect on their lives and feelings and desires, but you could never tell who was actually coming to those conclusions, the author or the subjects. All of this stems from the fact that this is more of a novelization, than any kind of analysis.
This isn’t bad by any means – I think this is a very interesting, at times juicy and salacious, look at the lives of three women in America. But it’s not a portrayal of female desire simply because it focuses on specific experiences, but doesn’t make any inferences. Mind you, I did not expect a generalization from three cases alone, but I did expect some general musings and conclusions to be made. And while I read this, I kept thinking about how certain arguments could be made about female desire and how they perceive it, I just wish I wasn’t coming to those arguments alone. The author does that in the epilogue and I wish the book was more like the epilogue.
Ultimately, I found this to be superbly written and interesting. It’s a really engaging read, and I finished the book so quickly, really engrossed in it at all times. But I just think that the marketing for it was bad – this book isn’t even representative of the desires of American women (all the protagonists are white, for one), let alone of all women everywhere. The author doesn’t even tell us anything, which is why it feels like the book doesn’t deliver on what it initially promises.
To sum up – if you read this as a novel, I think you will find it very satisfying and actually quite poignant at times. If however, you approach this as non-fiction that is supposed to analyze female desire — you will be disappointed. But if you set your expectations straight, I don’t see why you could not enjoy this one.
I’d love to hear from you – have you heard of this one or read it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments! And also let me know what are you reading!
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