School teacher Rhonda Thomas claims she was exposed to injury risk while carrying books and goods, stocking shelves and using steel stairs.
School teacher Rhonda Thomas claims she was exposed to injury risk while carrying books and goods, stocking shelves and using steel stairs.

Girl exposes ’forbidden love’ with teacher

It's the book everyone has been talking about - and chances are, if you haven't read it someone you know has.

Since Three Women was released in July this year it's become a worldwide sensation, with critics praising it as the best nonfiction book since Truman Capote's In Cold Blood was published in 1965.

Written by journalist Lisa Taddeo, Three Women is the result of ten years of meticulous work by Taddeo interviewing numerous women across the United States about their sexual lives, with only three consenting to have their stories told in print.

Based on years of interviews, court documents, emails and text messages, Three Women tells the very different sex lives of Lina, Sloane and Maggie in addictive, first person accounts.

Lisa Taddeo spent a decade working on Three Women.
Lisa Taddeo spent a decade working on Three Women.

Lina is a lonely housewife from Indiana who begins an affair with an old high school flame after years of her husband refusing to kiss her on the lips.

Across the country is restaurant owner Sloane, who has sex with other men and women at her husband's request, only to find the decision come back to haunt her.

Speaking to news.com.au on the phone from New York, Taddeo said she hopes Three Women's raw accounts inspires us to be less judgmental - and kinder - when it comes to relationships.

"Really for me it's the idea of not judging people that's the main thing. One man who read the book said that the thing that it did for him the most was it let him know that indifference could be wounding," she said.

"That is what I would hope people to gain. We're all very similar, we shouldn't judge each other.
"And that not seeing someone else in the world - we all want to be seen - and not looking back at someone when they are in front of our faces is one of the cruellest things you can do to another person."

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By far the most compelling - and heartbreaking - story of Three Women, is that of Maggie's, who is the only one interviewed to use her real name.

Maggie Wilken was just 17 when she alleges her high school English teacher, Aaron Knodel, began a sexual relationship with her - claims which he denies.

Three Women by Lisa Taddeo.
Three Women by Lisa Taddeo.

At 17 Maggie was below the age of consent, which is 18 in the US state of North Dakota.

Wilken alleges Mr Knodel commited numerous sex acts on her while she was still in high school, with plans for them to sleep together on her 18th birthday.

Wilken describes the romance - which she claims they likened to Bella and Edward's forbidden love in Twilight - as rocky, ending when he abruptly dumped her on his 30th birthday.

In Three Women Maggie describes in heartbreaking detail how her tumultuous relationship with Mr Knodel caused her mental pain for years afterwards, prompting her to come forward at age 22 when he was named North Dakota's teacher of the year 2014.

But, as Three Women reveals, there was no fairytale ending for Maggie.

During a five-day trial in April 2015, a handwriting expert claimed romantic post-it notes placed in Maggie's copy of Twilight matched Mr Knodel's hand.

However, the teacher strenuously denied he had written the notes, with his wife also taking the stand to accuse Maggie of being dishonest about their relationship.

Mr Knodel was eventually acquitted of three of five felony counts of corruption or solicitation of a minor. The other two were dismissed after a judge declared a mistrial, the West Fargo Pioneer reported at the time.

Coming forward came at a huge personal cost for Maggie, who faced fierce opposition from those in the community who supported Mr Knodel and attempted to discredit her account. After he was acquitted Mr Knodel returned to teaching in schools.

But while Maggie may not have achieved a resolution in the legal system, Taddeo says the release of Three Women has healed her.

"Maggie has been doing the best," Taddeo revealed.

"She said that the book has given her closure and she has received hundreds of notes from women across the country saying that she's helped them with her story and her honesty has helped them go back in time and deal with their own (trauma)."

In a touching twist Three Women has even reached one Maggie's idols as a teenager.

"On top of that (US) soccer star Abby Wambach, who was always Maggie's hero as a young woman, she posted a photo of herself reading the book," Taddeo said.

"I wrote and said, 'you're Maggie's hero,' which she was, and she wrote back and said 'Maggie's my hero'.

"So that's the kind of (affect) that Maggie has been having which has been a really amazing response."

Three Women is available now from all major bookstores


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