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The Nasty Woman (Book) Club: Untamed by Glennon Doyle


Source: Random House Publishing Group

Wasn’t it all supposed to be more beautiful than this?

This is the question author Glennon Doyle found herself contemplating in her 40s, after ostensibly having ‘made it’ as a successful memoirist, wife and mother. In her most recent work Untamed, Doyle examines the itchy, frustrating sense (familiar to so many of us) that there must be more to life for women than just being ‘good’.

Written in a series of short yet powerful anecdotal stories, Untamed is equal parts intimate memoir and inciting wake-up call. Separated into three sections – caged, keys and free – there’s no doubt that there is some deep wisdom and truly liberating concepts expressed in the pages of this book. Doyle’s third memoir is deeply personal – she discusses the breakdown of her first marriage, navigating sobriety and parenthood, and the moment she ‘remembered her wild’ and first laid eyes on her now-wife, Abby Wambach – but the true power of this memoir lies in the fact that Glennon’s writing is infinitely relatable, didactic and so very human.

In Untamed, Doyle both implicitly and explicitly discusses how layers of cultural conditioning and institutional oppression result in girls and women internalising the idea that the best thing we can be, in our lives and in the world, is agreeable and self-sacrificing. She critiques the many ways in which patriarchal and capitalist systems manipulate women into never, ever asking for more from their lives – because, of course, we’re meant to be so very grateful for what we already have (in a recent interview on podcast ‘The Melissa Ambrosini Show’, Doyle shared the fact that she wears a necklace that simply says ‘MORE’ as a reminder to never again fall into the trap of playing small for the comfort of others).

Glennon Doyle. Source: The New York Times

A focal point of the memoir is Doyle articulating how, upon meeting Abby, she was forced to choose between living for herself (by leaving her existing marriage for a woman, in doing so upsetting her children and uprooting her seemingly perfect family unit) or continuing to be a martyr, albeit a deeply unhappy one, for the sake of her family. Doyle chose the former, positioning readers to understand that pursuing their own joy and choosing themselves matters. One particularly powerful passage has Doyle stating, in conversation with her daughter, “your job, throughout your entire life, is to disappoint as many people as it takes to avoid disappointing yourself."

Released in March this year, this book has already made some pretty significant cultural impact; it was an instant New York Times bestseller, and it has received (deserving) rave reviews (Adele took to Instagram recently to praise the memoir, stating, “it’s as if I just flew into my body for the first time…who knew our own liberation liberates those around us?”).

Author Elizabeth Gilbert stated, “Untamed will liberate women”, which is exactly what it’s doing. Untamed is about learning, then unlearning. It’s about getting angry and honouring your desires and the intuition you have about your own life (this is what Doyle calls your knowing). It’s about using that knowing to help others become free, too. Untamed is what happens when women find their voices and get brave. Get your hands on this powerful memoir. Get angry, get brave and get free. Then, share it round so that others can be untamed, too.

Each month Ellie Stamelos from The Nasty Woman Club will be reviewing popular books that look at issues and topics in the world of intersectional feminism.

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