Home / Books / The Testament by John Grisham | Book Review

The Testament by John Grisham | Book Review

Humans are strange creatures!

While food, cloths and a shelter are the primary necessities; majority of people are not satisfied with just the same.

And, there is nothing wrong in it. Without the aspirations and ambitions, there will be no progress. Inspiration comes from these desires.

The things take wrong turn when greed takes over.

The bad thing with the greed is, it doesn’t have an end. Unless you control your mind and implement a self-imposed boundaries, it keeps growing.

And when you get wealth without actually working for the same, you know the amount but you fail to value it!

The desire to earn big amount quickly, without working hard often leads to crime.

Why we are talking about greed, wealth and other aspects of human psyche?

Well, today we are going to discuss an interesting book – The Testament – by one of our favorite authors John Grisham.

Of course, it is a legal thriller like most of his books.

Here are quick links to some of his books we got a chance to read and share reviews for.

Book Title : The Testament
They have the will. Now he must find the way.
Author :
Published by : Vintage (December 27 2011)
# of Pages : 544 (Paperback) 192; 4070 KB (Kindle EBook) 448 (Hardcover) 872 Minutes (Audiobook)
# of Chapters : 52
Purchase Link(s) :

Let us start with the cover page of “The Testament”.

Book Cover:

Of course, we believe that a book should not be judged by its cover.

At the same time, we also acknowledge the influence of a book cover in a remarkable number of puchase and/or read decisions.

The Testament by John Grisham | Book Cover

The Testament by John Grisham | Book Cover

As you can see the book is available with different covers for different editions and versions.

With the updated technologies, each version has got its enhancements. And, at the same time, the designer may use his/her imagination as per the story brief and designed it accordingly.

Based on the tagline’s resembles with “where there is will, there is a way”, in one of the versions, you see a wanderer exploring geography. While one of the character goes on searching for someone in the story, but, this particular illustration doesn’t match with it, as far as, my opinion is concerned.

While a couple of illustrations are good in quality, one of them try representing a mension or courthouse by showing a pillar. But, neither of these covers reflect the story. As an exception, there is one more version of the book where the cover page tries showing a will (or testament).

Despite that, the latest cover pages are attractive. And, most of the John Grisham books are picked based on his name, so, even moderately good cover pages can work positively for them.


Let us take a bird’s eye view of the book plot.

Troy L. Phelan is a wealthy business tycoon. He lived his life fully. He earned significant amount of money and acquired a remarkable number of properties and collected a huge amount of wealth.

It was his earning, and he worked hard for the same.

He married multiple times and blessed(!) with many children.

Troy is not at the pink of his health and based on his age, his end time is near.

Unfortunately, a lot of people including his wives and children are looking forward to the possible fortune they may get.

Well, they are neither hard-working nor loyal or caring about Troy or his well-being. What they want is the lion’s share in the property that will be left behind by Troy upon his death.

Troy knew the fact and over the period he got his “last will” or “testament” changed. But, that was a different story. Now, he is going to finalized his “last” testament.

And, he does so!

And then, he left the world!!!

Who got the large chunk of his property? Actually, who got what? Well, you need to read this interesting thriller to get your answers.

Over the course you will meet with Troy Phelan, Jr., Rex Phelan, Libbigail Jeter, Mary Ross Jackman, Geena Strong, and Ramble Phelan, Rachel Lane, Snead (servant), Nicolette (latest secretary), Josh Stafford (lawyear – Joshua Stafford), Dr. Zadel, Dr. Flowe, Dr. Theishen, Tip Durban, Hark Gettys, The current CEO was Pat Solomon, Montgomery, Mr. Trill, Nate O’Riley, Grit, Judge F. Parr Wycliff, Valdir Rutz, Pat Solomon, (CEO), a woman named Neva Collier, Ayesh, Neva Collier, and others.

Views and Reviews:

Though this book belongs to the legal thriller genre, it delves deep into human psyche. The way we behave, the way money affects and why money is not everything, the author covers the entire spectrum.

In this book, you meet with people who can go to almost any extent to get money and you also meet people who don’t care about a single dime. They have different goals in the life. A journey to spirituality is also a part of this book.

I would like to quote a few lines from the initial segment of the book, that will give you an idea about Troy and his current mental state.

Down to the last day, even the last hour now. I’m an old man, lonely and unloved, sick and hurting and tired of living. I am ready for the hereafter; it has to be better than this.

This may give you an impression of a person with humble background is on the deathbed (or at least counting his days). Then comes the following line:

The money is the root of my misery.

Confirming your doubts.

I am estranged from all the wives and all the children. They’re gathering here today because I’m dying and it’s time to divide the money.

Now, this looks like almost a typical situation of any family, possibly the person is not poor but may be a middle-class fellow.

By sweat and brains and luck I built every dime of my fortune. Spending it is my prerogative. Giving it away should be my choice too, but I’m being hounded.

He seems convincing and what he is telling is his right. May be he has a small fortune.

The trouble with having money is that everybody wants a little of it. Just a slice, a small sliver. What’s a million dollars to a man with billions? Give me a million, old boy, and you’ll never know the difference. Float me a loan, and we’ll both forget about it. Wedge my name in the will somewhere; there’s room for it.

Oh, he is a billionaire! And, a large number of people wants something from him (as they cannot get everything).

The strange thing is, while everyone wants his properties, no one cares about him!

Welcome to the real world! Who says, we are evolved beings?!

Well, these lines must have given you a fair idea about how good it is in literary aspects. I like the way the author has built the scene and the tempo of the story. Actually, the author shows his clarity of thoughts, analytical power and skills through the characters. And, when a book has such a brilliant start, you will surely be drawn to keep reading it.

At least, I will do the same.

What about you?

The book has really strong characters. Their characteristics are elaborated really well. For example, the following line cements the persona of Troy.

It was impossible to look at Troy and not think about the money. Grief for an estranged relative, even a father, cannot stand in the way of half a billion dollars.

To avoid spoilers I am not mentioning such lines for other characters. The following line builds the suspense in a matter-of-fact-ly manner.

They haven’t seen the will, nor do they have the right to. A will is a private document revealed only after death. The heirs can only speculate as to what it might contain.

Of course, he is not happy with his descendants and thus he put some interesting conditions.

“ ‘First, I want a quick autopsy, for reasons that will become important later.
“ ‘Second, there will be no funeral, no service of any type. I want to be cremated, with my ashes scattered from the air over my ranch in Wyoming.
“ ‘Third, I want my will kept confidential until January 15, 1997. The law does not require you to immediately produce it. Sit on it for a month.
“ ‘Signed, December 9, 1996, three P.M., by Troy L. Phelan.’ ”

So, naturally, he is going to play a game with the people who are looking eagerly to get their share from his properties when he die.

Anyway, over the course, we also meet an intersting lawyer who is seeing his struggle days. His thoughts are very clear.

Winning it would be nice, but winning wasn’t crucial. He’d make a fortune, and he’d become famous, and that’s what modern lawyering was all about.

The book tells us a harsh truth.

Addicts know no shame. You disgrace yourself so many times you become immune to it.

When wrong habits catches you, it is tough to get out of its clutches. Eventually, it makes you a disgusting person.
When you know how to mind your business and have right priorities set, at least, in terms of your personal well-being, you are doing a favor to yourself.

His private life was a fiasco, but nothing hampered his beloved company.

You can definitely guess who is referred here.

The author is good at writing scenes where ruckus, sarcasm and humor go hand in hand. For example

Libbigail, who was crying, tripped over a TV cable and tumbled into a reporter, who also fell. There were shouts and curses, and as the reporter was on all fours and getting to his feet, Spike kicked him in the ribs. He squealed and fell flat again, and as he was thrashing about trying to get up, his foot caught the edge of Libbigail’s dress, and she slapped him for good measure. Spike was about to slaughter him when a deputy intervened.

Feeling like you are watching it in front of you, right?

And there are scenes and dialogs involving genuine conversations. For example:

“Were you with him when he jumped?”
“No. He jumped alone.”
A fake laugh, then the smile returned. “I mean, were you in the room?”

The book takes you to small villages in not-so-rich country. The people living in poor conditions have bigger hearts. They go to extra miles (literally) to help those who need them. And, there are people who despite knowing that earned a remarkable amount of fortune, don’t get smitten by the fact. This way, the book has covered a variety of places, people, mindset, behavior and other stuff. And, all of them are convincing. I consider it as a success of the author.
Here is an interesting scene from the book where nature is explored.

The clouds went away and a beautiful half-moon appeared above the river. Welly brewed a pot of coffee. After the violence of the storm, the Pantanal seemed determined to be perfectly still. The river was as smooth as glass. The moon guided them, disappearing when they turned with the river, but always there when they headed north again.

The author gives historical references and what good/bad is done in the past and how it is reflected in the current times.

WHEN THE Portuguese explorer Pedro Alvares Cabral first stepped on Brazilian soil, on the coast of Bahia, in April of 1500, the country had five million Indians, scattered among nine hundred tribes. They spoke 1,175 languages, and except for the usual tribal skirmish they were peaceful people.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
After five centuries of getting themselves “civilized” by Europeans, the Indian population had been decimated. Only 270,000 survived, in 206 tribes using 170 languages. War, murder, slavery, territorial losses, diseases—no method of exterminating Indians had been neglected by those from civilized cultures.

By “Indians” the people referred here are “Red-Indians”.

There are many aspects of the book we can talk about. However, to avoid spoilers we are skipping them.

The discussion above, especially the quotes from the book, must have given you a fair idea about the content quality.

The book shows you both right and wrong sides of a materialistic society. It is where you have so many people who are related to you but are not your relatives, you miss actual family, you miss actual comfort, peace and joy. And, you might be wandering in the jungles, far from your nature, and still the unknown fellows are nothing less then your family.

The testament of Troy is actually just a starting point, the journeys followed are really important ones.

The book is actually deeper than you may think at the first glance.

It may make you think and introspect. It may be hard-hitting at places.

Not everyone will be able to connect with it, but I found “The Testament”, a really interesting book.


A book worth reading. It will make you think beyond. While it gives you joy of reading, it also makes you realize many things. If you want to read it just as a masala entertainer than also you can go for it.

ThinkerViews Rating:

Around 7.5 to 8 stars out of 10.

Quick Purchase Links:

Over To You:

If you already have read the book do share your remarks and thoughts via comments below. Does this review help you in making your decision to buy or read the book? Do not forget to share this article with your friends over various social networks. Please follow/subscribe us on various Social networks like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Spotify, Amazon Prime Music, Audible, and others. And yes, you may like to subscribe to our RSS feeds to get latest updates for the site to land right in your mail box.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *