Women and Desire: Three Women tell their stories

My wife is in a book club with ten or twelve other women. Each is responsible for choosing a monthly book to read and share. Three Women by Lisa Taddeo was suggested to Cherry and she is considering it for her selection. I often read the books. I just finished Three Women.

            The book could be subtitled “Women and Desire.” It is a raw open account of the lives of Lina from Indiana, Maggie from North Dakota, and Sloane from Rhode Island.

            When I practiced medicine I experienced rare moments with patients when all pretense and façade was stripped away. We were communicating… words seem inadequate to describe… emotionally naked, soul to soul. It could be my revelation of a part of me, but usually came from my patient – a joy, a sorrow, a regret, a dilemma, a desire. The moment was all-consuming and invariably brought tears to my eyes. Locked in a stare we’d realize we were naked. Then we’d look away and the moment was gone.

            Reading Three Women made me think the author had many such moments with her subjects but also those raw intimate feelings were what the women either experienced or were desperately seeking.

            My cousin Carl sent me a video clip of a comedian whose routine explorers What Do Women Want? It is a question men have been asking with varying degrees of seriousness for a long time. If men give any thought to it, I think it is because of their mothers and their desire/need to please her. And yet there is a resentment of that need. Both the desire and resentment transfer to relations with women.

On the other side, I have always felt that women wanted love and security. If they got both in the same package they were reasonably happy and fulfilled. Settle for love without security and a woman was often on an emotional roller coaster of ups and downs and curves that threatened to throw her off. Settle for security without love and a part of her was either repressed, sublimated, or unfulfilled.

            Three Women is about these three women and their search for love with and without security.

            As the song says, “Woman needs man…that no one can deny.” But here too there is an ambivalence. From this book, I saw the world from a woman’s view and began to feel a glimmer of understanding.

            That it’s a man’s world still rings true in most places. Reading Three Women I felt the suppressed rage at being assigned to this one down position all your life.  And yet this book describes the need, the desperate need, to be with a particular man and yet the fear and agony when he becomes unavailable – either temporarily or permanently.

            The tension between that desire and rage is the driving energy of this fascinating book.

            Billy Crystal said women need a reason to make love, men just need a place. The reasons may be described differently, but underneath they are all about need and desire, love and security.

            There is a lot of graphic sex in this book that may be arousing to some and offensive to others. But that is only a small, albeit important part of their search for love and security. These three women tell us soul to soul of that search. As much as a man can, I understand. I am with them.

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Retired physician, author, and nonprofit worker in Africa

6 thoughts on “Women and Desire: Three Women tell their stories”

  1. David, just saw that this book made the #1 spot on the NYT bestseller list for non-fiction. The couple of reviews I read were enthusiastic and both were written by women. How wonderful that you decided to read and write about it. I’m looking forward to reading it myself. I think you’re right in your analysis that most women seek both love and security. (And that one without the other, as is common, can be tragic.) I came of age in a time when women had new professional opportunities, but, looking back, I accepted that it was still a man’s world and didn’t even think to question it, even when men behaved badly–at work or in romantic situations. (Men will be men, I thought, and got on with things as best I could.) Today it’s clear it’s still a man’s world, particularly when you read the stories connected to the #metoo movement. Too bad. There’s beauty to be found in love and sex.


  2. Thanks for an interesting comment on this book. I have not read it, but now want to suggest it for my own book club.
    When I fell in love at a very young age, I was looking for love and someone who was very, very interesting. I never considered security. It has worked very well for me for almost 56 years, and he is still very very interesting.


    1. I sent you the link before I read your comments. I think you are unique ” I never considered security.” I think it must be a rare grounded, confident, and centered woman who doesn’t.


  3. I always read all your writings, this by far is my favorite and the most thought provoking… i must read the book!  Thank you for sharing.

    Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPhone


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