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The Testament Paperback – 26 May 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow (26 May 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099538342
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099538349
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (197 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 73,617 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Long before his name became synonymous with the modern legal thriller, he 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. In 1983, he was elected to the state House of Representatives and served until 1990.

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 Grisham's hobby. However, he had already begun his next book, and it would quickly turn that hobby into a new full-time career--and spark one of publishing's greatest success stories. The day after Grisham completed A Time to Kill, he began work on another novel, the story of a hotshot young attorney lured to an apparently perfect law firm that was not what it appeared. 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, The Appeal, and The Associate) and all of them have become international bestsellers. There are currently over 250 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. The Innocent Man (October 2006) marked his first foray into non-fiction, and Ford County (November 2009) was his first short story collection.

Grisham lives with his wife Renee and their two children Ty and Shea. The family splits their time between their Victorian home on a farm in Mississippi and a plantation near Charlottesville, VA.

Grisham took time off from writing for several months in 1996 to return, after a five-year hiatus, to the courtroom. He was honoring a commitment made before he had retired from the law to become a full-time writer: representing the family of a railroad brakeman killed when he was pinned between two cars. Preparing his case with the same passion and dedication as his books' protagonists, Grisham successfully argued his clients' case, earning them a jury award of $683,500--the biggest verdict of his career.

When he's not writing, Grisham devotes time to charitable causes, including most recently his Rebuild The Coast Fund, which raised 8.8 million dollars for Gulf Coast relief in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. He also keeps up with his greatest passion: baseball. The man who dreamed of being a professional baseball player now serves as the local Little League commissioner. The six ballfields he built on his property have played host to over 350 kids on 26 Little League teams.

Product Description

Amazon 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 offspring, a legion of lawyers, several psychiatrists and a plethora of sound technicians wait breathlessly. However, the magnate 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.

Nate O'Riley--a washed-up, alcoholic lawyer with two ruined marriages in his wake and the taxman on his tail--is dispatched to the Brazilian wetlands in search of a mysterious heir named in the will. After a harrowing trip upriver, 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 so 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 stripers, 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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Grisham is on top form with this legal blockbuster" (Daily Mail)

"A compulsory page-turner with a subterranean plot as old and potent as myth" (Malcom Jones Newsweek)

"His best novel in the past five ... brilliant... you have to go on reading" (Mail on Sunday)

"Grisham includes his trademark legal wrangling, zippy plot and engaging minor characters ... His hordes of fans won't be disappointed" (USA Today)

"Absorbing ... The pages fly by" (Chicago Tribune)

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Joe HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on 17 Dec. 2002
Format: Paperback
In THE TESTAMENT, we have an obscenely wealthy businessman committing suicide after devising the perfect plan to vengefully deprive a flock of vulture-like heirs from inheriting his $11 billion estate. Rather, he leaves it all to an illegitimate daughter working as a missionary to the Indians in the remote outback of Brazil. Our hero, Nate, is a burned-out lawyer just out of alcohol rehab sent to find the will's sole beneficiary. Even though she doesn't want the money, he returns to the States to defend her interests against those of the money-desperate ex-heirs and their just-as-greedy lawyers, probably the largest school of razor-toothed sharks ever encountered in a single volume.
Suffice it to say that Nate is one of the most appealing characters conjured by Grisham in a long time. By the end of the book, he finds professional, spiritual and emotional redemption stemming from his surprisingly brief encounter with Rachel, the elusive missionary daughter, and a somewhat longer bout with dengue fever. That, in itself, makes this story worth reading. The fact that the truly avaricious get their just desserts is frosting on the cake. A delicious read!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 21 Jun. 2008
Format: Paperback
Troy Phelan, worth $11 billion, loves his business and hates his ex-wives and children. Rumored to be suffering from terminal cancer, Phelan calls the family together to sign a new will. The heirs cooperate by providing psychiatrists to observe and verify that Phelan is in his right mind. That's the apparent game plan, but Phelan has a second and more shocking one. Thus opens The Testament.

Probate law isn't very exciting, and John Grisham decides to dress it up with a cast of characters that are almost parodies of parodies, so much so that they didn't resonate with me. As a result, the "exciting" beginning bored me.

The bulk of the story eventually shifts to recovering alcoholic and drug addict, attorney Nate O'Riley, who is sent straight from rehab to Brazil to find a missing heir, Rachel Lane, who is a medical missionary to the indigenous people there. His journey is harrowing and tests his limited strength to the limits. But the journey also is a beginning of his personal redemption through receiving Salvation for the Lord, Jesus Christ. As soon as the redemption part of the story begins, the book vastly improves. Without that element, I would have rated this as a one- or two-star effort.

It's unusual for a secular writer to put a major Christian theme in a popular work of fiction. I applaud Mr. Grisham for doing so.

May God bless you, Mr. Grisham!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sam Tyler on 18 Jan. 2006
Format: Paperback
John Grisham is what I would call airport fiction. His stories are rarely taxing and in fact are often too simple. However, if you are on a long journey of lying on a sunny beach Grisham is a perfect read.
'The Testament' is one such novel and in my opinion the best I have read of his so far. After a multi billionaire kills himself his greedy family expects a huge pay out. However, the billionaire has decided to give his money to an unknown heiress who has become a missionary in Brazil. It is up to washed out lawyer Nate to track down this mysterious woman and get her to sign the forms – or the awful family will get it instead!
This book jumps between the pre-courtroom drama of the family suing their fathers estate with the adventures Nate has traveling the wilds of Brazil. The book is quite far fetched and in places a bit ridiculous but its fast pace and fun feel means you let it off. Another criticism lies in how fast the book is wrapped up. Perhaps Grisham could have added a few more pages rather than rushing to a conclusion.
However, overall I enjoyed the book immensely and I think you would too if you switch off the rationale part of your brain and go for the ride!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. A. Ramos on 7 Oct. 2007
Format: Paperback
John Grisham has done it again. I had read this book originally a year after release. And I just finished my second read. And though it all started to come back to me as I read it...It was still an exciting page-turner as it was the first time. That says a lot about this book.

A self-made billionaire, the tenth richest man in America, has all his heirs come in to prove he is sane and competent before signing his last Will and Testament. Which he does, right before he commits suicide in front of those still present. And of course as he leaves out each and every known heir from his will. And as you learn how greedy and selfish they are, you are pleased he did.

He does pay off all his children's debt and leaves the remainder of his holdings to his illegitimate daughter no one knew he had. Nor does anyone know where she is. His law firm sends a drug/alcohol addict just out of rehab for the fourth time to find her. He finds her an M.D. who has dedicated her life to God and is working deep in the jungles of Brazil.

I found the book a very fast read that has some plot twist and is well written. Well worth the read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By on 23 Feb. 2000
Format: Hardcover
Grisham is back with his most unputdownable book to date. He takes you on a trip through the amazon as a kind of metaphor for Nate O'Riley's, his central chracter, scramble back from alcohol and drug abuse (not to metion his failed marriages). Money, greed and amazing plot twist are all the best parts of Grisham's novels and this is no exception. Oh the last twist is the best one but your going to have to read it for yourself because I'm not going to tell you it!
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