Untamed, a memoir and feminist self-help book, is, at its best, an open, reflective tale of feminist awakening. At its worst, it is tamely produced only for her large, uncritical, fanbase. Yet, for the most part, Doyle’s vulnerability still shines through and Untamed was enjoyable for its open, almost, voyeuristic insight into the author’s experiences of escaping patriarchal limitations.
Doyle dives into the novel with a fable about a trip to the zoo with her wife and children. She describes watching a ‘Cheetah Run’ where a crowd gathers to watch a cheetah chase a toy bunny attached to the back of a Jeep. After the run, the children amongst the crowd question the cheetah’s happiness in captivity, and despite the zookeeper’s insistence that the cheetah is content in its cage, Doyle’s daughter catches a glimpse of the wild in the cheetah’s expression – ‘Mommy. She turned wild again.’
A self-confessed lover of metaphors, Doyle refers to this tale as a representation of how women are tamed to fit into a patriarchal society. She writes about how she was tamed through religion, homophobia, internalized misogyny, alcoholism, an eating disorder that took over in her early youth and an unhappy marriage that influenced her to write her bestselling novel, Love Warrior. Doyle also shares the story of the many people who have written to her with their own internal and external struggles with being caged.
The book follows Doyle’s feminist awakening, as she departs from her loveless marriage and accepts her homosexuality after she falls in love with a woman. She crafts her own experiences and those of others into positive life lessons and her forgiving and empathic nature shines through the pages. Much unlike many motivational reads, her inspiring anecdotes and pieces of advice are gentle and reassuring. Within Untamed, Doyle opens up and produces a blisteringly honest account of how patriarchy has affected her life and well-being.
“Discontent is evidence that your imagination has not given up on you.”
At the opening of this book, I admired Doyle for her truthfulness and open-mindedness, and she struck me as non-judgemental and easy. However, the last few chapters of Untamed crumbled. In the second half of the novel, her mindful relatability slumped. Instead, by focusing on her adoring fanbase, she seemed to become carried away with proving herself to the reader. It may be those fans that would soak up her quaint yet not as relevant life stories at the end of this book, but for those of us who were sold this novel as a feminist self-discovery guide, these chapters didn’t quite hit the right tone.
Untamed is, nevertheless, worth a read, especially if you are also embarking on a similar journey of feminist self-discovery. Whilst it took a weak turn, Untamed blends together memoir and personal development guide well, and reading about her new view on life is truly memorable and eye-opening. She also describes mindfulness with an angle I’d not visited before and her love of metaphors is a pleasant and supportive way to present her feelings and advice.
Grab your own copy of Untamed here.