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The Testament (1999)

by John Grisham

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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8,48179656 (3.58)59
A lawyer searches the Brazilian jungle for a missionary doctor working with Indians, the illegitimate daughter of an American tycoon who left her his fortune. But the tycoon's real children are determined to prevent the inheritance.

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» See also 59 mentions

English (71)  Spanish (4)  Dutch (2)  All languages (77)
Showing 1-5 of 71 (next | show all)
I like some good escapism (is it a word?) and Grisham usually doesn't disappoint. Very enjoyable story, plenty of unsavoury characters, despicable rich people, court fights...what's not to like?
It kept me distracted for a couple of weeks rather than watching the daily lies aka daily briefings on Covid-19 of the British government. Now, what to read next? ( )
  MissYowlYY | Jun 12, 2020 |
I am an unapologetic fan of Grisham. The Testament revolves around a gazillionaire with a large family that could be the poster for dysfunctional (not to mention scumbags). He jumps out the window just after signing a will leaving everything to one heretofore unknown illegitimate child who is now a missionary in a remote jungle in South America. The story grabs you at the start and does not let go until … well, I finished it last night and it hasn't let go yet. ( )
  susandennis | Jun 5, 2020 |
A suspenseful story about greed, family, and temptations. I enjoy the research Grisham does that gives the reader a you-are-there experience. ( )
  JoniMFisher | Sep 19, 2019 |
Several times while reading this book I thought I'd read it previously--but if I did, it must have either been before I started keeping an online bookshelf or this book didn't transfer over from Shelfari. The ending was different than what I thought it would be, so it is possible that I read a different book with a similar theme.


Most of us dream about winning the lottery and what we'd do if we had millions of dollars. Well, the Phelan children (except Rachel and Ramble) got 5 million dollars each on their 21st birthday--and most ran through it irresponsibly. (Ramble's not yet 21 so we don't know what he'll do with it yet--the picture painted of him makes it seem that he will waste it like his siblings and half-siblings--however, he will have one difference in his life in that Troy is already dead before he gets the 5 million dollars--and he will know that there is no more coming from that source.) They all need/want more and expect to get it from Troy Phelan's estate.

Rachel's been a missionary for 11 years--when we initially meet her, she seems to have no interest in the money--not even as a way to help the people she serves by being able to get a new boat or medicines she needs to treat them. I can see why Troy, or any parent, would want to give her the money over the wasteful ways of the others.

But this is also a tale of lawyers--some greedy, some not. Josh Stafford and Nate O'Riley seem to fall in the not greedy side of the table. Josh wants to honor the wishes of his client (Troy) even though the last will Troy made seems odd to him. Josh also has no love for Troy's children (barring Rachel whom he's never met and didn't know about until after Troy's death) or Snead (Troy's long-time servant). Nate's fighting demons of his own and is sent by Josh to locate Rachel. Though finding her is hard, the trip changes Nate for the better. I actually thought there was going to be a romance develop between Nate and Rachel that would have him serving alongside her in Brazil.

Nate finally embraces sobriety, makes amends with his younger children and their mother, tries to make amends to his older children (with less positive results, but at least he tried and perhaps over time they will see that he's a changed man), and decides to leave off practicing law as soon as he's done representing Rachel's interest in the Phelan matter (something Josh pushes on him). Nate can't help contrasting the Rachel he met with the rest of the Phelan children whom he meets upon deposition in the case. In the end, it seems he will find new life in administering the trust set up with Rachel's portion of the estate.

On the greedy side, we have all the lawyers for the Phelan children and ex-wives. It seems all they see is dollar signs. Hark poaches two other of the siblings with the promise of lowering his per cent of the cut as more sign on (of course, he stands to gain more total with 3 siblings in his stable vs. the 1 he started with). Their percentages of the take range from 17.5% to 50% and many passages show the lawyers tallying up what their part will be if they take a settlement etc.

Sneed chose to stay in his position--we're not told why--perhaps he was paid well, perhaps he hoped for a share of the estate in exchange for his years of faithful service. He acts like Phelan took advantage of him. Of course, he is disappointed to not receive a mention in the will (most of us would be) but IMO he shouldn't have stayed with a job on the off-chance he might get a bequest. If he really hated the job, he should have found other employment. He was compensated for his work and that's all he should have expected. (In fact, he was written out of the will after once asking Troy what he could expect when Troy died--that's ballsy! I'd never ask an employer what he/she was leaving me! Then again, I hope I wouldn't expect additional compensation for employment unless it was spelled out in a contract.) So once Sneed knows he's not named at all in the will, he's willing to sell his story to the side that will pay him most. ( )
  JenniferRobb | Jul 26, 2019 |
Biit of an anti novel... maybe a movie treatment. ( )
  Brumby18 | Jan 13, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 71 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (21 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Grishamprimary authorall editionscalculated
Lundwall, Sam J.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Down to the last day, even the last hour now.
Information from the Slovak Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Na tento deň som sa pripravoval dlho. Každý cent svojho bohatstva som nadobudol vďaka vlastnému úsiliu, rozumu a šťastiu. Môžem ho teda míňať, ako sa mi páči. Mohol by som ho aj darovať podľa svojich predstáv, ale v tom mi chcú zabrániť.
Prečo by som sa mal starať, kto dostane moje peniaze? Použil som ich na všetko, čo si len človek vie predstaviť. Keď sedím sám v invalidnom vozíku a čakám, nenapadá ma jediná vec, ktorú by som si ešte chcel kúpiť alebo vidieť. 
Všetko mám za sebou a som veľmi unavený.
Nezáleží mi na tom, kto dostane peniaze. Ale nie je mi ani ľahostajné, kto ich nedostane.
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