Originally published: 6 August 2021
Author: Lisa Edwards
Published by: Redwood Tree Publishing
Length: 246 pages
Reading dates: 4-9 November 2021
On a beach in California, Lisa finds a shell on a rock, its two halves open to the sky. On the outside it is sea-worn and unremarkable, but on the inside it gleams like a jewel. She wonders if it is waiting to be found and cherished – like her.
The shell is the image she uses to set up an online profile that will end her marriage. It leads her to more beaches around the world – to Kenya, Thailand, Turkey, Egypt and India – in search of the freedom to choose how she wants to live. On a beach in Goa, she confronts the grief that she’s been numbing with alcohol, and finds a way to break the lock on a secret she’s been keeping inside her since she was a little girl.
For fans of Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and Wild by Cheryl Strayed, Lisa Edwards’ story is about the search for a life beyond the one prescribed for women: marriage, babies and a high-flying career. Childfree by choice, she is determined to travel solo, going on holidays on her own, as well as to restaurants, bars and even clubs. But grieving for her parents, she begins to depend on the anaesthetic that alcohol gives her and it steers her life in unexpected ways. During the course of her journey she dates married men, younger men, men her own age and Muslim men, but none of them are prepared to give her her freedom. In India, she discovers yoga and a tribe of women who show her a new path, breaking the lock on the secret she’s been keeping inside her since she was a little girl.
Cheat Play Live is Lisa Edwards’s memoir and what an honest and brave memoir it is. She details the story of her marriage to a man whom she knew deep down wasn’t right for her but married because she felt it should be the next step in her life. Knowing the marriage wasn’t right after several years she embarked on affairs before ending her marriage and finally started to live her life. Once Lisa discovered a love of travelling, she travelled the world, usually alone and had some amazing adventures in Egypt, Goa and Thailand.
The book is divided into 3 broad parts, each chapter centred around a beach – Cheat where she talks about her marriage and the men she has affairs with; Play where she talks about the fun she had after her marriage: the travels and relationships she had; Live talks about Lisa accepting what is best for her. She also talks about her dependence on alcohol which is fuelled by a stressful working environment and the confidence it gives her. As the book draws to a close Lisa has discovered what makes her happy – she gives up alcohol, her stressful job and instead goes freelance, moves to the coast and trains as a yoga teacher
I kind of know Lisa from meeting once at our local book club and she kindly offered to send me a copy of her book for review. I don’t often read non-fiction but her story drew me in from the beginning and I was engaged and admiring of her honesty and bravery of laying her life open for me to read about. I loved reading about her travels and adventures and was more than a little jealous of the places she has been. Cheat Play Live is an inspiring and relatable memoir that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Thank you to Lisa for sending a copy of Cheat Play Live for review.
About the author:
Lisa Edwards is a former publisher who is now a freelance writer, editor, agent and yoga teacher. She grew up in North Wales, but has lived mostly in southeast England. She lives in Worthing, West Sussex, where she lives alone and walks by the sea every day. She splits her time between the UK and India.