Part of my Unschooled Master of Theology Program is extensive reading in various, often interrelated subjects, and that includes fiction.
This book, The Testament by John Grisham really took me by surprise. It was one of the books I got from the lending library at the office, and I brought it (with the rest of the books I’d collected) to the Eden property where they now sit in case I’m ever without a laptop or smart phone (hint, hint, come soon an apocalypse near you). I plan, once I’m through reading each book, either to return the copy to the lending library at work or, if it’s in bad shape (or a bad book), burn it in the campfire.
So, let’s jump right in….
The story starts off well enough. Troy Phelan is the 10th richest man in the US. That’s saying quite alot. It actually surprises me whenever someone is identified by how wealthy they are compared to everyone else. Actually, they’re only being compared, really, to all the other wealthy people in the group.
I don’t even register on the scale.
But, despite his wealth and his fame (because of his wealth), and the privilege (or because of it), all of his children are the worst kind of people you can think of.
Spoiled, self-centered. Consumers instead of builders or creators. Corrupt. They’re all there, surrounding the old man, Troy, who’s being tested to see if he is competent or if the vultures can swoop in and start picking at the bones before the man is even dead.
But, he’s got a trick up his sleeve. And, you have to hand it to the guy. He knows how to get even. He knows how to say goodbye.
He jumps out the window and pluments to his death. No test, thank you. No stealing my money out from under me so you can snort it up your nose or pay for plastic surgery or pay off your debts.
Troy’s children have another thing coming.
Insanity in the Jungle
In fact, the name Rachel Lane is read in the will. She’s left everything and it’s up to one of the attorney’s to find her.
In Pantanal. That’s Brazil. The jungle. Deep in the jungle.
So, Nate O’Riley, recently out of rehab and looking for a fresh start, is enlisted and strikes out to find a stranger.
But, what he finds instead is something so much more.
Captived Reading in the Woods
I remember reading this book as I was digging the hole for my first dugout (which I just pulled out the ground last week and am in the process of digging a larger hole for a better (and bigger) dugout I plan to build this season.
But, I can still remember the warmth in the air, dressed in shorts and a t-shirt, sitting in a lawn chair in the middle of the hole I was digging, surrounded by shovel and pick axe and a bucket off kilter, sitting on the pile of soon to be exumed dirt.
This story made me think about death. A lot. First the rich man dies. How quaint. How funny because I go out of my way every day to enter Publisher’s Clearing House on my phone in hopes of striking it rich.
Of course, I’m not a workaholic. I don’t want to do the actual work that it takes to become ultra wealthy. In fact, I think if I were ever to come into a large amount of money, it would only serve to ruin me.
But, that’s what poor people say. In reality, I think money really helps (or can help) your lot in life. I imagine what I would do if I started getting $7000 a week for the rest of my life. I literally couldn’t spend it all.
I guess that was Troy’s problem, too. He had too much of what everyone else wanted.
All About Death
In the end, I kept asking myself, what does this guy have? He was a success in the eyes of the world. He had money. Fame. Successful business. A reputation. But, his marriages were ruined. His children where a tragedy. The only thing he had was an illegitimate child that was only a half decent person because she’d never known him.
So, he gave all his money to her. And why not? I don’t have much, but I do have a little and I’ve often wondered what I should do with it, prepare a little for the inevitability of my own death.
I don’t want it left to my parents or siblings. They’re all just like Troy’s family, only relatively poor. I could give my house and the Eden property to a friend of mine, she has a family with two girls. But, I don’t really know her all that well. I could give it to my co-worker turned boss, turned now just email buddy. But, I don’t really know what she thinks of me or what she would do with any of it. I imagine sell it and spend the cash on useless stuff.
Troy had a plan, though. But, even the best laid plans don’t always go the way we think they’ll go.
In the end, I couldn’t recommend a book enough. I read it in the paperback format (well, most of it. The last quarter of it I finished on my laptop), and it was one of the few fiction books in years that I’ve picked up that I didn’t want to immediately put back down or lose interest in after a few pages.
The ending is perfect. Not really all that trite or foreseeable. It was rather enjoyable and I think back to those characters often as I go about my day, especially when I’m out paddling in my kayak or sitting down on my dock, watching the birds and hawks and the occasional bald eagle flying above the far shoreline, as the sun lazily sets behind the western ridge.
There’s just something so magical about good stories, isn’t there?
Until my next review….
Please consider supporting my writing, my unschooled studies, and my hermitic lifestyle by purchasing one or more of my books. I’m not supported by academia or have a lucrative corporate job – I’m just a mystical modern-day hermit trying to live out the life I believe God has called me to. So, any support you choose to provide is GREATLY appreciated.
Excerpt from Sacred the Circle:
There was a knock at the door.
Campbell got up from the chair and crossed the small distance so he could open it.
A young man stood in the doorway, probably in his early twenties.
Campbell could tell he looked a little disheveled.
He had deep rings around his eyes, as if he hadn’t been sleeping much, and he kept checking the hallway in both directions, as if half expecting someone to be stalking him.
“Hey,” Campbell said.
The kid was stumbling over his own words.
Campbell leaned out into the hallway, checking to make sure there was no one else listening.
This guy wasn’t the only one who was becoming paranoid.
There were two students hanging out at the foyer, near the stairs, but the rest of the floor was clear.
“I’m sorry,” the kid said. “Must be the wrong place. I’m mistaken.”
He started to leave.
“Wait,” Campbell said, putting a hand out. “Hold on a second.”
The kid paused.
“What’s your name?”
He fidgeted with his collar.
“I know it sounds crazy, but – ”
“You’re not crazy, Lloyd,” Campbell said, grinning.
“Did you – ? ”
The kid paused, as if unsure if he should continue.
He looked back toward the stairs, then at Campbell.
“Did you know I was coming?” he finally asked. “I mean, that’s not possible, but, were you expecting me?”
Campbell chuckled to himself.
“What’s so funny?” Lloyd asked.
“Well – ”
Campbell pushed the door open all the way so Lloyd could see inside his dorm room.
The entire room was full of them, students, non-students, ranging from what looked like eighteen to even a few middle-aged men, scattered about the room, sitting wherever they could find a comfortable spot.
Lloyd’s mouth dropped open.
“I wasn’t really expecting them, either,” Campbell said. “So, I hope you don’t hold it against me when I tell you, I had no idea you’d be showing up here. Do you care to join us, anyway?”
Buy my book Sacred the Circle to find out what these men are hearing from the supernatural realm. Will they answer the questions tugging at them? What are the visions saying? Who are the Multitude? Why are all these men being brought together? By whom? And why, above all else, are they being convicted….to pray?
But, trust me when I say, you’ll be white knuckling this one with every turn of the page!