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3.35  ·  Rating details ·  137 ratings  ·  22 reviews
Maya and Ilan have an unusual marriage: Maya agrees to tolerate Ilan's chronic infidelity as long as she can participate and he will never stray without her. To her surprise, she finds their threesomes as arousing as they are disturbing and, for a while, everything seems fine. But as Maya's writing career takes off and she becomes more independent, Ilan feels threatened, a ...more
Published April 1st 2004 by Black Swan (first published July 29th 2003)
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Average rating 3.35  · 
Rating details
 ·  137 ratings  ·  22 reviews

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Oct 22, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have always wondered when reading a book that indulges in some sexual gymnastics or kink or whatever, just how much the author separates him or herself from the contents. Is the activity something they have experienced, always wanted to, frowned upon?

So when I saw this book mentioned on Julie Hilden’s bio on her column at, a very interesting blog related to court decisions, my eyebrows shot up and I had to scrape them off the ceiling. Hilden graduated from Harvard an
Oct 01, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This book is both beautiful, and disturbing. I will tell you up front that this is definitely not for the faint of heart. Most of the depictions are extremely graphic, which makes the gut-wrenching scenes even more so.

There are two central themes here, and they are sex and obsession. The title implies that the central focus is threesomes, but this subject actually takes up a negligible amount of the book. Actually, threesomes are only the beginning. Soon, the intimate life of the main characters
Jul 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've just finished and 5 stars is the only rating i can even consider.

The blurb on the back of the book more or less tells you the storyline, but what it doesn't tell you is this is written in first person POV which makes everything starkly intimate. The writing is lyrical and sparse not over laced with decription, but this makes it also lush and emotive. As the relationship between Maya and her husband Ilan unfolds the reader is taken on a dark and dangerous journey filled with obsession and co
Jul 29, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was good enough to get me through an hour-long wait at the doctor's office, but I didn't think it was worth much more than that. The characters are easily to dislike and not easy to understand (and I say this as someone who enjoyed The Story of O). The reader doesn't ever fully understand the female character's obsession with this man, who frankly sounds obnoxious, controlling in a non-sexy way, and doesn't even come off as very intelligent. The woman comes off as weak and totally help ...more
May 07, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, erotica
Page 35: "I believe people betray themselves." So here: to our flaws, the beginning of our own little tragedies, our fractured lives. ...more
Pamela Langhorne
Anyone who knows anything about erotica knows that it is, at least, in abundance. Simple smut is readily available and punchy porn, even more so. There are scads of nicely written erotic short stories, but this is something more difficult to find. Julie Hilden's 3 is beautifully written and more than just an erotic novel. It is literature; lyrical, delicate, sensual and haunting. It is, from the start, impossible to put down.

According to 3's back cover, it is a modern day Story of O. This isn't
Libre Paley
Oct 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘Three’ by Julie Hilden is disturbing yet erotic. As the central couple, Maya and Ilan, travel through and negotiate the sexual rules of their marriage, the power balance queasily shifts. Newly-wed Maya sets out to please her husband physically, he being the more sexually experienced of the two, and finds within herself a need to be controlled. She becomes a participant in Ilan’s philandering through her involvement in the threesomes he arranges (on condition the women involved resemble Maya her ...more
Interesting from the point of view that the woman has no clue why she is absorbed in an S & M relationship. Does a good job of description and yet it was oddly non-stimulating, even the "vanilla" eroticism. She was a good writer, but I finished it not getting any insight into her involvement or the meaning of some of the events. I think it was more about obsession and who understands that? ...more
Chiefdonkey Bradey
Jan 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Icy sexy empty hororshow
Apr 13, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It wasn't so much dislike that made me give this only one star. It was more disinterest. There was an interesting hook to start the book: a woman catching her husband with another woman. Okay, I'm intrigued. And back cover copy told me that said wife would agree to an "open" marriage of sorts. That's why I picked it up! The author has already won me halfway over because I picked up the book. But, it takes more than that to keep me interested.

The prose was written well. The book had a literary l
Dec 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
the American "Story of O," Hilden's work, transported to upscale New York City and Yalies, is tightly written and demonstrates an artist's ability for twist of plot/narration. representing a year's work of effort and refinement through the generally-regarded as rigorous MFA process, 'Three' is a return on investment for time and money on the part of the reader. not everyone reads erotica, but if you are a reader willing to read a book in the genre, Hilden advances her specialty, and the stepping ...more
Rashad Raoufi
its a good read very easy and open. its at times alot self asbsorbing, the maya character is greatly explored but she is very confused, and needy. it kidn of sums up the scars that are left from broken childhoods that this modern society has to suffer in the forms of dperession,slef abuse and sexual excess. ilan tries to fulfill his need for intimacy by sex, where he can control women, to compensate for the utter lack of control he felt when his mum was ill. maya in turn craves the devotion that ...more
Adam Vanzant
Dec 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was first a little pissed at this book, my friend gave it to me because she said it was crazy and hard to read. However, I found it to be the opposite. What made me mad was the fact that she chose to stay for all the foolery and fuckery in the story, however, if she would have left then there wouldn't have been a story. I thought I had the whole thing figured out and then I got a surprise and couldn't wait to hit the end of the book. If you don't mind kinky stories then you nay find this inter ...more
May 31, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: erotica, 2009
It's a very nihilistic take on Story of O.

The lead character, Maya, was never truly invested in what was going on b/w her husband and her. She just floated along until her husband committed suicide.

Yet, even her husband's suicide did not immediately "activate" her "awakening". It takes her to almost being killed to do that.

Would not recommend if one is interested in a "softer" read. It's very very depressing!
This book is almost impossible to rate. I read it years ago, yet it still stays with me in some ways. It must have had some impact on me, right? I can honestly say that I've never read a book like this one. It's all sorts of messed up, dark, confused and completely implausible. Yet, I'm ok with all of that in fiction. If you want to try something different and are ready to let your judgements go, then try out 3. ...more
Nov 30, 2007 rated it did not like it
Interesting premise -- sexual obsession, suicide, fantasies... but I couldn't get past the choppy, dispassionate prose. Couldn't figure out if it was stylistic or just bad writing. Guess that means it was bad?

Too much S&M to make it appealing to me.
Teri Dona
Not what I expected. An "open" marriage is not what these people had. The husband made all the choices, the wife none. How could that be considered "open"? It was a story of obsession and overbearing control. Yuck. ...more
Feb 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this book. One of my favorites by far, I happened to stumble upon this book not knowing what I was getting myself into, and fell in love. A very well written novel, and a very sexual one, surprisingly enough. Please... this is a must read!
Mark Farley
Jun 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
You remember that time you suggested to your partner that you wouldn't mind a threesome? Well sometimes it's not all wine and roses... This is sexy, dangerous and provocative. Julie Hilden is great fun and very sexy and thrilling at the same time. ...more
Lexie Huber
Jun 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Erotic story of blood-play, suicide, narcissism, threesomes, and more. It is a quick and interesting read if you like things a bit edgy.
Aug 27, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
very odd love story. but strangely erotic
Apr 07, 2007 rated it it was ok
Found this in the clearance section for a reason.
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