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Francesca Giacco

A Woman In Love Is a Woman Alone

Photo by Zach Guinta

Francesca Giacco | Longreads | July 2019 | 16 minutes (4,341 words)

Who isn’t fascinated by desire? Who isn’t drawn to it, frightened by it? Who doesn’t want to know more?

Who we want and how and why is individual and intrinsic. We hold those proclivities close, share them rarely, and often struggle to understand them ourselves.

In Three Women, Lisa Taddeo works to inhabit the very concept of desire ⁠— female desire, in particular. And that work is significant. In reporting and writing this book, she spent eight years chronicling the sex lives of three American women, spending thousands of hours with them. She drove across the country six times, lived in their towns, read their local papers, listened to their neighbors’ conversations, and transformed her life to better understand theirs.

Like Truman Capote and Gay Talese before her, Taddeo immerses herself in her subject matter, writing almost entirely from the perspectives of the three women she’s chosen to follow, making herself known only through stylistic detail and turns of phrase. To write this book, she needed to know everything about these women: their wants, fears, embarrassments, traumas, victories, and disappointments. She required access, and they gave it to her, in the form of memories, correspondence, text messages, emails, diaries, and, in one case, court records.

While this process is rightfully described as a serious and consuming journalistic undertaking, I also see it as a quintessential example of close female friendship. Connection between women can be like that: quick, unquestioning, and without boundaries. We challenge, reassure, and understand each other. We say to one another, here is my whole life. Read more…