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The Testament Paperback – September 27, 2005

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Delta; Reprint edition (September 27, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385339585
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385339582
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,790 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #519,074 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews 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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

A traditional gangbuster Grisham opening?in which an aged billionaire outfoxes his greedy heirs by signing a bombshell will, then jumps to his death?gives little clue how this seductive tale will develop. The novel also features the usual attorney hero and legal action, but Grisham confounds expectations by sweeping readers into adventure in the Brazilian wetlands and, more urgently, into a man's search for spiritual renewal. Nate O'Riley, 48, is a drunk. He's also a top D.C. attorney who, winding up his fourth rehab stint in 10 years, is asked by his firm to find one Rachel Lane. The illegitimate daughter to whom the firm's client, tycoon Troy Phelan, has left his entire $11 billion fortune, Rachel is a missionary-physician tending Indians somewhere in Brazil's Pantanal region. Nate's experiences there prove nightmarish, including fierce storms, a plane crash, dangerous animals, hunger and, finally, dengue fever, which nearly kills him. But as Grisham crosscuts from Brazil to D.C. and the sleazy machinations of Phelan's other children and their lawyers to negate Phelan's will, readers will wonder which is the real jungle; never has Grisham revealed so nakedly his contempt for the legal profession. What Grisham holds dear is made clear in his unforgettable portrait of Rachel, whose serenity and integrity stun Nate, while inspiring him to forsake forever his lust for booze, power and money and to turn toward God. The message (which isn't entirely new to Grisham; see The Street Lawyer) and the storytelling that conveys it aren't subtle, but Grisham's smart use of the suspense novel to explore questions of being and faith puts him squarely in the footsteps of Dickens and Graham Greene. Sincere, exciting and tinged with wonder, this novel is going to sell like an angel, and deservedly so. Agent, David Gernert. 2.8 million first printing. (On-sale date: Feb. 1)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

It had an interesting plot but too long to reach its end.
It is a book that will keep you turning the page (there are not many that keep my attention).
This book has a great story line, well developed characters, plenty of suspense.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

158 of 163 people found the following review helpful By on November 25, 1999
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is certainly the best John Grisham novel so far. A self-made billionaire commits suicide. When his last will is discovered, it is mind-boggling to the supposed-to-be heirs. He leaves his vast fortune to one of his children, Rachel. But she's enstranged to her father, and has given her life to God as a missionary in the jungles of Brazil. Now, the lawyers have to find her, which is not an easy task. In the meanwhile, the supposed-to-be heirs are circling like vultures, trying to overturn the 'insane' will. The story is suspenseful, heart-warming, adventurous, and beautifully written. It's also a picture of human nature, and the story carries a rare genuine redemptive byline. Really a good book!
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83 of 87 people found the following review helpful By Wayne A. Smith VINE VOICE on February 3, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I liked this book about greed, manipulation, serenity and redemption.
Grisham's first chapter sucks the reader into the story like few beginnings I have encountered. The first person perspective of a bitter and lonely billionaire who plots his revenge on his children even as he has plotted his own death is riviting.
When the story moves to inland Brazil, Grisham's narrative excels at explaining a remote yet beautiful land that few are aware exists. His characters likewise are well developed and beleivable in their roles. His portrayal of the several amoral lawyers borders on the hilarious and will serve to confirm many people's stereotypes of members of the bar.
What separates this novel from othe works of Grisham is the presence of God in the life of several of the characters. Religion is a positive influence on those it touches in the story and serves as the fulcrum upon which the plot turns.
This is the first fiction book I can recall reading where the strong faith of several major characters is treated as a positive defining aspect of their lives. In my experience, when I have encountered religion at all in fiction, it usually is presented as a character defect or held up to demonstrate the hypocrisy of those who do not practice what they preach. Grisham's treatment of faith as a central aspect of character and motivational force is refreshing and much more representative of how it affects most religious people.
I read the book quickly over several days. Great opening, well developed and interesting characters, enough greed and money on the line to titilate and a good juxtaposition of faith and redemption. A winner.
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79 of 85 people found the following review helpful By Peter Krausche on June 1, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I've haven't read any of the other Grisham novels, but when I heard what this one was about, I decided to give it a try - and was delightfully surprised! As a Christian, I am used to Christianity often being ridiculed in secular novels. Not so with this one.
Nate O'Riley, a twice-divorced alcoholic right out of rehab, must find Rachel Lane, a Christian missionary nobody seems to know, amongst the Indians in the Pantanal of Brazil. Almost like finding a needle in a haystack. The reason: Rachel has become single heir to the tenth largest fortune in the world! The encounter is destined to change both their lives forever.
Contrary to some of the other opinions here on the site, I find the ending perfect. John Grisham knew exactly what he was doing, and if they make a movie out of this book, I hope they don't change it. What absolutely startled me, but in a very positive way, was the grasp that John Grisham seems to have of Christianity and Christian missions. He seems to have received much of his information from Carl King, a Baptist missionary friend of his that lives in Campo Grande and has actually taken Grisham into the Pantanal. Finally a bestselling author who really knows what he's talking about (at least regarding information on various aspects of religion)!
So if you're looking for some food for your soul and a possible way of changing your life's perspectives, read this novel! And to John Grisham: keep up the good work!
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By David Flores on January 6, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Boy, am I glad I didn't see Amazon's reader reviews before I read this book. I would've been negatively influenced and I would never have given myself the opportunity to read one of the most enjoyable stories I've read in a long time. C'mon people, we're not talking Ayn Rand deep, philosophical symbolism...this book is pure entertainment at it's finest. Take it for what it is and get lost in it. This book is lot of fun.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By K. Bryant on December 1, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This has to be one of Grisham's finest. In short, it's about a billionaire who sticks it to his kids one last time before his death. A lawyer grabs his fragile sobriety and heads into the depths of Brazil to find the sole heir. It's an interesting story with a few unexpected twists, but not too much of the legal tedium displayed in some of his earlier works. The depth to which the characters are developed is almost feel the heat of their emotions. It is as much a story on the trappings and failings (and somewhat rare triumphs) of our American culture as it is a story about the distrubution of a billionaires' estate. A great read, I hated for it to end.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Michael Adamson on December 9, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Another Great Grisham Novel
The Testament was one of the best books I've ever read. Although it was a little slow at some points, it proved to be interesting enough to capture my attention the entire time. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who likes a good novel, but especially to Grisham fans. The book begins with Troy Phelan, an eccentric multi-billionaire, announcing to his seven children and four ex-wives that he is going to sign a will. Because he can't stand any of his children or ex-wives, he deceives them, making them think that they will be mentioned in his will. In reality he signs a will giving the money to one heir: an illegitimate child that no one knew about who is living in Brazil. The book continues as Nate O'Reily, one of Phelan's lawyers tries to find this child and get her to sign the will. The best thing about this book is how real the characters become. You really come to hate Mr. Pehlan's children, grandchildren, and ex-wives because of their terrible personalities. You find yourself cheering Nate O'Reily on in his bouts with alcoholism and becoming worried when he is in danger. This is definitely a must-read.
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More About the Author

Long before his name became synonymous with the modern legal thriller, John Grisham was working 60-70 hours a week at a small Southaven, Mississippi law practice, squeezing in time before going to the office and during courtroom recesses to work on his hobby--writing his first novel. Born on February 8, 1955 in Jonesboro, Arkansas, to a construction worker and a homemaker, John Grisham as a child dreamed of being a professional baseball player. Realizing he didn't have the right stuff for a pro career, he shifted gears and majored in accounting at Mississippi State University. After graduating from law school at Ole Miss in 1981, he went on to practice law for nearly a decade in Southaven, specializing in criminal defense and personal injury litigation. One day at the DeSoto County courthouse, Grisham overheard the harrowing testimony of a twelve-year-old rape victim and was inspired to start a novel exploring what would have happened if the girl's father had murdered her assailants. Getting up at 5 a.m. every day to get in several hours of writing time before heading off to work, Grisham spent three years on A Time to Kill and finished it in 1987. Initially rejected by many publishers, it was eventually bought by Wynwood Press, who gave it a modest 5,000 copy printing and published it in June 1988.That might have put an end to Grishams hobby. However, he had already begun his next book, and it would quickly turn that hobby into a new full-time career. When he sold the film rights to The Firm to Paramount Pictures for $600,000, Grisham suddenly became a hot property among publishers, and book rights were bought by Doubleday. Spending 47 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list, The Firm became the bestselling novel of 1991.The successes of The Pelican Brief, which hit number one on the New York Times bestseller list, and The Client, which debuted at number one, confirmed Grisham's reputation as the master of the legal thriller. Grisham's success even renewed interest in A Time to Kill, which was republished in hardcover by Doubleday and then in paperback by Dell. This time around, it was a bestseller. Since first publishing A Time to Kill in 1988, Grisham has written one novel a year (his other books are The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, The Chamber, The Rainmaker, The Runaway Jury, The Partner, The Street Lawyer, The Testament, The Brethren, A Painted House, Skipping Christmas, The Summons, The King of Torts, Bleachers, The Last Juror, The Broker, Playing for Pizza, and The Appeal) and all of them have become international bestsellers. There are currently over 225 million John Grisham books in print worldwide, which have been translated into 29 languages. Nine of his novels have been turned into films (The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, A Time to Kill, The Rainmaker, The Chamber, A Painted House, The Runaway Jury, and Skipping Christmas), as was an original screenplay, The Gingerbread Man.

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