Book review: The Testament – John Grisham


Book: 92/100

Troy Phelan is a billionaire business man who is on the brink of death. His legacy apart from his staggering fortune is his six spoilt children and three ex-wives.

He reads his last will and Testament to them after passing a test by three psychologists to prove that he is still sane, leaving them with the fortunes they so dearly want. After they leave, he pulls out another will, a handwritten one. The latest Testament states that 1) the will is only allowed to be read out loud a month after his passing 2) that his children’s debt will be paid off but only from before the day he past (which means that any new debt will not be covered by his estate), and 3) that the billions are dedicated to his illegitimate daughter, Rachel Lane, who is a missionary deep in the Brazilian jungles.

The six children, when they hear that there is a new will, immediately starts worrying and contesting the will. They cease most of their infighting; they hire new lawyers and start to fight against Troy Phelan’s lawyer, Josh Stafford.

Josh knows that Troy truly despised his children because of all the money they wasted and their indiscretions and horrible attitudes. He gives the task to find Rachel Lane to Nate O’Reilly, a recovering alcoholic in his firm.

Nate is sent to Brazil and meets Jevy – a helpful Brazilian who travels with Nate to the Pantanal, a very primitive area in Brazil. They meet Rachel after days of traveling, and Nate is fascinated by her. Rachel is a woman who has little worries about financial goods, putting her trust in God and being content with it. Her only mission in life is to serve the tribe, and as a qualified medical doctor helping them with their health problems and talking to them about Christianity. Nate, who has chased opulence his entire life, is stunned and humbled that someone can be so pure and unimpressed by the fact that she just became a billionaire. He is downright shocked when she declines Troy’s fortune, but accepts her decision and leaves the tribe.

On the way back Nate contracts Dengue fever and is taken to hospital. While there, deathly ill, Rachel visits him and whispers that everything will be okay. When Nate wakes up, Rachel is gone, making him wonder if she ever visited him in the first place.

Josh meanwhile is getting more adamant that the Phelan heirs will never touch the money. He realizes what Troy knew – that in their hands billions of dollars will cause unknown misery to the rest of the world. Malcolm Snead, an assistant to Troy, feels slighted that he wasn’t named in the will and decides that he is taking action. He sells his testimony to the Phelan lawyers, blatantly lying about what he witnessed in Troy’s last months.

Nate is finally well enough to return to the States and Josh manages to keep it a secret that Rachel declined her inheritance. They go through proceedings, and Josh convinces the lawyers that 50 million per heir is more than fair considering what they are known to do with available cash.

Nate returns one more time to Brazil to convince Rachel that she should take the cash. Will she accept? Will the Phelan heirs’ greed be kept at bay?

Rating: 7/10

It seemed that it took me ages to finish reading The Testament. It was really quite enjoyable.  Particularly, the contrast of the rich lifestyle the Phelan children lived in the States, and how unhappy they all actually were, and the plain and simple lifestyle Rachel lived and how happy she was with it.

It is obvious from the start that Troy was a cold and calculating man. It was also obvious what so much money does to people. It corrupted all his children, most of his employees. The worst was actually Malcolm Snead, who became a liar because he didn’t get the money he wasn’t promised that he would get. I really didn’t like him at all.

There were parts in the book I thought where it had a slow pace. It is probably why it took me ages to read – it was one of those stop and start events. I did really enjoy it though, and am definitely keen to try out some others from the same author.

Have you read it? what did you think?

PS: Check out for another (triple) review post this afternoon!

3 thoughts on “Book review: The Testament – John Grisham

  1. Ah I vaguely remember this book from years ago. I like John Grisham, but a lot of his work is the same, so many of his books are interchangeable for me! I should check some out again!

    Have you read any of his other works? Check out Runaway Jury and The Last Juror.

    Also try A Civil Action by Jonathan Harr, that was what encouraged me to study law in the first place, then realising that SA law is broken.

    • I can see how his books can become the same.. this was good but had a slow pace and was easy to be distracted by other stuff (you know how it goes)

      I will 😀 Haven’t but he he is a decent enough writer – not like Cornwell!

      Thanks friend! I will try him out

      • Yeah his books are usually a lot faster than The Testament, that one did just meander around and get annoying at times (yep, it did).

        Oh definitely far more talented than she is!

        Let me know how it goes. That Civil Action is a very heavy and fact-intensive book hey. But so interesting. You might like the medical aspect of it, I loved the legal aspect.

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