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John Grisham?s book The Testament is a story that mixes legal suspense with a remarkable adventure, their lives is forever altered by the startling secret of a billionaires last wishes. The setting takes place in Washington, D.C. and in the Pantanal in Brazil.
The main characters in this book are:
Nate O?Riley: The main character in this book. He is a washed-up, alcoholic litigator with two ruined marriages in his wake and the IRS on his tail. He has been in rehab for his alcoholism four times.
Troy Phelan: A 78-year-old eccentric and the 10th-richest man in America. People question on whether or not he is of sane mind. Troy has three ex-wives who bore seven children, six of them are still alive and doing all they can to torment him.
Troy?s first wife was Lillian, She had four kids: Troy Junior, Rex, Libbigail, and Mary Ross.
Troy?s second wife was Janie, she had two kids: Geena and Rocky. Rocky was killed in a car accident while he was in college.
Troy?s third wife was Tira, she had one kid, and his name is Ramble.
A quote from Troy about his family: ?A dying man should not hate, but I cannot help it. They are a miserable bunch, all of them. Their mothers hate me, so the children in turn have been taught to hate me too.?
Josh Stafford- Attorney for Mr. Troy Phelan
Jevy- Guide of Nate in the Pantanal.
Welly- Deck hand in the Pantanal.
Valdir- Lawyer in Brazil.
Rachel Lane- An illegitimate child of Troy that nobody knew about. Troy gives his whole fortune to her.
Phil Sinclair- Church minister at St. Michaels.
The story begins as Troy Phelan is about to read his last will and testament, divvying up an estate worth $11 billion. Phelan’s three ex-wives, their kids, 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. Troy Phelan hates his greedy, spoiled children. The aging multi billionaire knows that they?re circling like vultures as he waits to die. Phelan?s last will and testament names an unknown beneficiary, a missionary living deep in the wilds of Brazil. This will would nullify all other wills. But Phelan shocks everyone with a bizarre, last-gasp attempt to redistribute the spoils. This will gave enough money to clear all debts of his offspring. But it gave them nothing after the debts were paid. The will gave nothing to his ex-wives. Or to anyone else for that matter but one person, her name was Rachel Lane. Troy has given his entire fortune to her. The will said to wait 30 days to read the will. This gave time for Troy?s offspring to spend money they thought they would be given. It also gave time for Josh Stafford to find Rachel. Rachel was a missionary somewhere in the Pantanal in Western Brazil. Troy had hired an investigator to locate her whereabouts.
Josh was assigned with the task of finding Rachel. Josh decided a lawyer had to be the one that would have to go on the search because of the paperwork involved. Being from a busy firm, Josh had a hard time finding a lawyer in his office that could be taken away from their work. The only person in Josh?s firm that wasn?t on an assignment of anything was Nate O?Riley. Nate was in an alcohol rehabilitation center in Colorado. This was Nate?s fourth time at the rahab center. Josh went to Colorado to talk to Nate about the assignment.
Josh told Nate about the case and that he needed someone to go to Brazil to find a girl named Rachel Lane. Nate was reluctant at first to go, but he eventually gave in to Josh and decided to make the trip for the firm. Nate waits seven days to check out of the center. Josh picks him up and takes him straight to the airport where he boards a plane and flies to Corumba, Brazil.
Nate decides he wants to look at the Pantanal in a plane. So Jevy hires a pilot to take them to look at the Pantanal. When they take off for their observation, it is a clear day. But as they are out longer the clouds begin to form. The pilot notices the storm coming to late. When the pilot tries to fly back, they are caught in the storm. The storm tosses their little plane all around. The pilot cannot control the plane anymore. The pilot miraculously finds a small fazenda. He tries to land the plane on a strip of its land. When they hit the runway, they go a little way. A big cow is in the runway, the pilot tries to avoid the cow but is unable to. The plane is ruined after hitting the cow. The plane and the cow are scattered across the runway. The three men make it out alive though. Nate is bruised badly. Jevy calls the military on Nate?s cell phone. The Sergeant agrees to send some men for the three guys. The three men get picked up in a helicopter and are taken back to Corumba.
Nate is a recovering alcoholic. When he sees alcohol, he begins to get a taste for it again. Nate begins to slide, and he gets dizzy. Nate decides to go to the liquor store. He buys two bottles of Vodka. Nate then goes back to his hotel. He decides to not stop drinking till both bottles are gone. When Jevy comes to pick Nate up in the morning to take him to the boat, Nate is passed out on the floor. Jevy gets a maid to let him into Nate?s room. Jevy cleans Nate up and carries him to the boat.
Their trip has begun, and they are on their way up the river in search of Rachel Lane. They don?t know really where exactly she is. They have a map of Indian settlements that they can go by. Rachel is staying with a settlement of Indians. There are several large storms along the way that put the boat in danger. But Welly and Jevy are able to control the river.
The first settlement that Nate and Jevy visit, Rachel is not there. The Indians at the settlement are reluctant at first to talk to the two men but when they want to leave the Indians want them to stay and talk. Nate and Jevy go back to the main boat. Welly feeds Nate and Jevy supper and they continue up the river.
On their way to the next settlement in their small outboard boat, a storm comes up. Nate and Jevy spend the night in fierce rains and wind. When the morning comes, they are lost. After an hour of boating on the river they come to a lake. They see a fisherman, and he is able to direct them to the settlement where Rachel might be at.
After two hours of boating, Nate and Jevy find the settlement. The Indians make Jevy and Nate stay at the waterfront while they have a tribal meeting. After a couple of hours Nate and Jevy are taken to Rachel Lane. Nate?s first encounter of Rachel is a good one. She was surprised to see an American in the Pantanal. Rachel wants to talk a lot because she only gets to talk in English for 10 minutes a year when she calls the home office. Nate and Jevy are asked to spend the night in the Ipica settlement. The next day, Rachel has to go to a neighboring settlement because a girl was bitten by a snake. Rachel, being a doctor, tries to treat the girl. But Rachel is unable to save the girl because she has no anti-venom to treat the bite.
When Rachel gets back to where Nate is staying, Nate talks to her about why he is here. Nate tells Rachel about her father Troy?s death and also about how he has left his entire fortune to her. Rachel is not shocked by any of this. She tells Nate though that she doesn?t want the money. Nate can?t believe she wouldn?t want the money. She tells Nate she doesn?t need the money out in the Pantanal. Nate tells her she could just give the money to charity. But Rachel says that the money is not hers to give. Nate finally accepts that she doesn?t want the money. Rachel will not sign the paperwork. Nate is forced to leave with no proof of ever meeting Rachel. Before Nate leave though Rachel and Nate have a discussion about Nate?s bad history of addictions. Rachel tells him to pray to god and to confess everything. She tells him that god will help take his addictions away. Nate prays to god and feels a little better. Rachel has started him on the road to ending his addictions.
On their way back to the big boat, Nate gets sick. Nate is in very bad shape. Jevy tries to do everything he can for Nate. Jevy thinks Nate might have malaria. When Jevy gets the boat back to where the large boat was supposed to be it is not there. With no boat there, Jevy is forced to find a store along the river to get fuel. When Jevy gets his fuel for the boat, he takes the boat back to Corumba. When Jevy and Nate are back to Corumba, Jevy calls Valdir and they get Nate to a doctor. The doctor checks Nate and concludes that Nate has dengue. The doctor gives Nate a bunch of medicine. Nate then lays in a bed for a couple of days. The medicine helps Nate and he gets Jevy to take him to a hotel. While at the hotel though Nate gets sick again and Jevy is forced to take Nate back to the hospital. While Nate was sleeping at the hospital, he thought Rachel had come to talk to him. She told him he would not die, that god had plans for him. When Nate got better, Jevy and Nate went back to the hotel again. Nate told Jevy about Rachel coming to visit him in the hospital. Jevy didn?t believe him but agrees to look for her nonetheless. Nate spends the next couple of days resting and looking for Rachel.
Josh called Nate wanting to know what happened with Rachel. Nate tells him that he saw Rachel, but she didn?t want the money, and that she doesn?t want to be found. Josh tells Nate he needs to come back to the states right away. Jevy and Nate say their goodbye?s and both agree to keep in touch.
When Nate gets back to Washington, Josh and Nate discuss what to do next. Josh tells Nate that Nate will be the Lawyer for Rachel Lane. Josh doesn?t want to tell the children of Troy?s that Rachel doesn?t want the money. The children are suing the estate. They feel they have been cheated out of the money they believed they were entitled to. A court date is set. Nate spends two weeks questioning the children and their new psychiatrists. Nate tears them apart. He catches the children and their other witnesses lying about different things in the case. Nate was an experienced attorney he knew how to ask the right questions.
Nate was living two hours away from Washington in a small town. The house was owned by Josh Stafford. Nate went to church and met the minister. His name was Phil. Nate and Phil got to be very good friends they talked about everything. Nate and Phil spent a lot of their time working in the basement of the church. They were building classrooms for Sunday school. When Nate was needed in Washington he would drive back, otherwise he stayed in the small town.
Josh and Nate discussed a few things about the case back in Washington. They talked to the lawyer?s of the Phelan children and set a meeting date. At the meeting they discussed a settlement. Josh and Nate offered a $10 million settlement. The Phelan lawyers wanted $50 million. Nate told the Phelan attorneys that his client had advised him to go as high as $20 million. The Phelan attorneys asked for a lunch break to talk to their clients about the offer. When the meeting resumed, Nate told the Phelan lawyers they would pay the Phelan children $50 million apiece to settle. The Phelan lawyers agreed and a settlement was signed.
Nate took a flight on the Phelan private jet to Corumba. He was going to find Rachel Lane again. When the plane arrived at Corumba, Nate got onto a helicopter that had been rented. The helicopter took Nate to a clearing that Jevy and Welly had made. Nate got out of the helicopter and he joined Jevy and Welly in a new boat with a brand-new engine. Together they took the boat to the settlement where they had first met Rachel. When they got to the settlement, the Ipica?s were nowhere to be found. After Nate and Jevy waited for a while the chief came to talk to them. After some time he took Nate and Jevy to Rachel?s hut. But Rachel wasn?t there. The chief pointed to two matching white crossed in the ground. Nate walked up to them. The chief told Nate ?The woman is on the left. Lako is on the right. They died on the same day, malaria has killed ten people since you have left.? The Indians had blamed Nate for the malaria coming so Nate and Jevy couldn?t stay any longer. But before the chief left he told Nate that Rachel had left something for him. It was an envelope. When Nate looked inside, he found two sheets of white letter-sized paper, stapled together. On the first sheet, in large letters across the top Rachel had written, again, Last Testament of Rachel Lane Porter. The testament said she wanted the estate?s money to be placed in a trust. The interest from the trust would be used for charitable purposes. Rachel appointed Nate as the manager of the trust.
Nate realized then that Rachel really was in Corumba. She had visited him in the hospital. Rachel knew she was going to die, and something had told her this. She had contracted malaria. She had made the last trip to Corumba for supplies and to get a will written and notarized by a lawyer.
Rachel had found Nate?s calling. Somehow she had known that Nate?s addictions were gone. Rachel had seen the good in Nate. She knew he was searching for his purpose in life. Rachel had found his calling. God told her. Nate would for as long as he was alive be able to help out people with Rachel?s trust.
One of the main themes of this book is overcoming obstacles. In this book Nate O?Riley was able to overcome his addiction to alcohol through god. Nate was able to set his life back into order. He brought himself back into his kids lives again. He became a father.
This book is a classic in my mind. John Grisham is a very successful author. Many of his books are considered classics. John Grisham deals with real life situations in his book. He helps show in his books that good can overcome evil and that normal people can overcome any obstacle. This was a good book to read, if you like John Grisham books, you will like reading this book.
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