3 reviews

The Testament: A Novel
by John Grisham

Published: 2011-12-27
Mass Market Paperback : 560 pages
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Recommended to book clubs by 3 of 3 members


In a plush Virginia office, a rich, angry old man is furiously rewriting his will. With his death just hours away, Troy Phelan wants to send a message to his children, his ex-wives, and his minions—a message that will touch off a vicious legal battle and ...

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In a plush Virginia office, a rich, angry old man is furiously rewriting his will. With his death just hours away, Troy Phelan wants to send a message to his children, his ex-wives, and his minions—a message that will touch off a vicious legal battle and transform dozens of lives. Because Troy Phelan’s new will names a sole surprise heir to his eleven-billion-dollar fortune: a mysterious woman named Rachel Lane, a missionary living deep in the jungles of Brazil.

Enter the lawyers. Nate O’Riley is fresh out of rehab, a disgraced corporate attorney handpicked for his last job: to find Rachel Lane at any cost. As Phelan’s family circles like vultures in D.C., Nate goes crashing through the Brazilian jungle, entering a world where money means nothing, where death is just one misstep away, and where a woman—pursued by enemies and friends alike—holds a stunning surprise of her own.

Editorial Review

Troy Phelan, a 78-year-old eccentric and the 10th-richest man in America, is about to read his last will and testament, divvying up an estate worth $11 billion. Phelan's three ex-wives, their grasping spawn, a legion of lawyers, several psychiatrists, and a plethora of sound technicians wait breathlessly, all eyes glued to digital monitors as they watch the old man read his verdict. But Phelan shocks everyone with a bizarre, last-gasp attempt to redistribute the spoils, setting in motion a legal morality tale of a contested will, sin, and redemption.

Our hero, Nate O'Riley--a washed-up, alcoholic litigator with two ruined marriages in his wake and the IRS on his tail--is dispatched to the Brazilian wetlands in search of a mysterious heir named in the will. After a harrowing trip upriver to a remote settlement in the Pantanal, he encounters Rachel Lane, a pure-hearted missionary living with an indigenous tribe and carrying out "God's work." Rachel's grave dedication and kindness impress the jaded lawyer, so much that a nasty bout of dengue fever leads him to a vision that could change his life.

Back in the States, the legal proceedings drag on and Grisham has a high time with Phelan's money-hungry descendents, a regrettable bunch who squandered millions, married strippers, got druggy, and befriended the Mob. The youngest son, Ramble, is a multi-pierced, tattoo-covered malcontent with big dreams for his rock band, the Demon Monkeys. Will Nate get straight with Rachel's aid? Do the greedy heirs get theirs? What's the real legacy of a lifetime's work? The Testament is classic Grisham: a down-and-out lawyer, a lot of money, an action-packed pursuit, and the highest issues at stake. It's not just about great characters; it's about the question of what character is. --Rebekah Warren


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Discussion Questions

Suggested by Members

Talk about the will they wrote and tore up, the will they want to write, the will they received something from and the will that cut them out. Everyone has a will story.
by [email protected] (see profile) 06/23/15

How does Rachel and the dangerous trip to Brazil help Nick face his addiction more than rehab did?
What do you think about Rachel? What does it take to live a life like she does? Is it worth it?
Do you like any of the Phelan children? Do you think they are simply a product of their father and never had a chance to be better?
by alicethelady (see profile) 07/17/14

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

No notes at this time.

Book Club Recommendations

The testament
by wandapatterson (see profile) 09/16/14
Brazil theme!
by alicethelady (see profile) 07/17/14
Since the story takes you in part to the deep jungles of Brazil, we thought it only fitting do serve Brazilian snacks. Found a couple recipes online (Pinterest) that were easy and delicious. Our discussion was casual with no specific activities.

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
by [email protected] (see profile) 01/07/19

This book was so good I was so shock that he willed all his life saving to an illegitimate child and she did the unthinkable.

by [email protected] (see profile) 06/23/15

THE TESTAMENT by John Grisham
I started this book thinking “oh no, another bad will, lawyers fighting it out” book. I was wrong. This book is really a character study of two people: o
... (read more)

  "The testament"by pmlchick (see profile) 09/16/14

Excellent, uplifting, positive. I would recommend it to antone

  "The"by wandapatterson (see profile) 09/16/14

  "Thought-provoking story lines"by alicethelady (see profile) 07/17/14

Grisham wrote this in such a way that we never knew quite where the story was going next. Having two different story lines going at the same time gave us a lot to think about and took us to a lot of interesting... (read more)

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