Animal by Lisa Taddeo Book Review

How many readers around the world – I’ve read – and loved three women of Lisa Taddeo. An undeniable exploration of the love lives of three women living in America today, it quickly became one of the most sought-after non-fiction books of 2019, subsequently positioning American author and journalist Taddeo as something of a literary sensation.

And so, like many readers around the world, I was eagerly awaiting her next book after completing Three Women. Animal was announced late last year and published by Bloomsbury. It is described as depicting female anger in its harshest form and as a visceral exploration of the consequences of a male-dominated society, and has been praised by writers and critics alike as the lead-up to its publication. Not having the patience to wait until June, I got myself a proof and soon sat down to meet one of the dark and disturbing figures in literature.

Animal book review

Troubling and troubling from the first page, Animal begins a violent and public suicide that causes the book’s protagonist, Joan, in search of Alice, a woman she never met, and the last, across the country fleeing from New York to Los Angeles person alive who can shed light on Joan’s dark past.

She arrives in California; rents a house from a strange man named Leonard in the Santa Monica Mountains; gets a job in a health food store, befriends a local who lives in a yurt near her home.

And as the story unfolds, we learn more about its past. the events of a traumatic and terrible childhood that left a lasting mark on her mind and turned her into someone who allowed himself to be used and vilified by men. Animal moves between her past and her present, exploring topics such as loss, separation, fear, depression, sexual assault, miscarriage, death, lust, and anger, all of which form a carpet of pain that underpins their existence.

Animal is addicting, acting, and deeply troubling. It’s as visceral as it is violent. It’s a book about a painfully white dress; and it offers a nuanced look at women’s sexual experience and examines how long trauma like armor can be worn. This is a book about brutality and the women who survive men and the lifelong cost of that survival. Animal is a powerful and annoying story that is not for the faint of heart and demonstrates Taddeo’s skill as a skilled storyteller who does not shy away from controversy.

Animal by Lisa Taddeo summary

Joan endured the cruel deeds of men for a lifetime. But when one of them commits a shocking act of violence in front of her, she escapes New York City in search of Alice, the only person alive who can help her understand her past. In the glowing hills above Los Angeles, Joan unravels the terrible event that she witnessed as a child – that followed her every waking moment – and forges the strength to finally strike back.

Here is the electrifying debut novel by Lisa Taddeo, author of the New York Times bestseller and the international phenomenon Three Women, named on more than thirty best-of-the-year lists and as a “dazzling achievement” (Los) celebrated the Angeles Times) and “a heartbreaking, gripping, amazing masterpiece” (Esquire). Animal is a representation of female anger in its harshest form and a visceral exploration of the consequences of a male-dominated society. With a font that scorches and fascinates, Taddeo shows the exciting transformation of a woman from prey to predator.

Pre-order Animal at, Book Depository, Waterstones, Amazon or Amazon AU.

further reading

This interview with Lisa Taddeo through The Guardian about her bestselling book Three Women is great read.

Lisa Taddeo Author Bio

Lisa Taddeo spent eight years and thousands of hours tracking the women whose stories include Three Women and moved to the cities where they lived to better understand their lives. She has contributed to New York Magazine, Esquire, Elle, Glamor and many other publications. Her short stories have won two Pushcart awards. She lives in Connecticut with her husband and daughter.

More Lisa Taddeo books

Lisa Taddeo also wrote the groundbreaking Three Women, a record of unmet needs, unspoken thoughts, disappointments, hopes, and relentless obsessions.

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