Grisham, John: The Testament
(researched by Brandon Santos)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description
1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)
Grisham, John. The Testament. New York, New York: Doubleday, 1999. Doubleday is a division of Random House, Inc. Copyright: Belfry Holdings, Inc. (1999) First edition was printed in the United States in March, 1999. source: examining the first edition
2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?
The first American edition was published in trade cloth binding. source: examining the first edition
3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available
4 Pagination
224 leaves, pp. [8],1-435,[5] source: examining the first edition Gaskell, Philip. A New Introduction to Bibliography. United States: Oxford University Press, 1972.
5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?
The book is neither edited nor introduced. A list of other works by John Grisham is included on the third unnumbered page. An author's note is also located on the second unnumbered page at the end of the book. source: examining the first edition
6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?
There are no illustrations.
7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available
8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)
The book was designed by Paul Randall Mize. The binding of the book and the actual pages are in great shape. The last name "Testerman" is written in black permanent marker in the top right hand corner of the fly leaf. Several of the pages have what appears to be coffee stains on them, but the damage is not extensive. The actual readibility is excellent, with wide margins and bold clear type. Pages are numbered in the bottom center of each page. Chapters are numbered but not titled, with the first couple words of key paragraphs printed in upper case bold print. 104R Page Size: 234mm by 152mm ; text size: 177mm by 115mm source: examining the first edition
9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available
10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)
The book contains interwoven cream paper, which is thick and sturdy. The pages have very little wear, except the several coffee stains, thus remaining in their original color. source: examining the first edition
11 Description of binding(s)
The book is bound with a solid black binding, consisting of beaded line stitching. The name of the book, author, and publisher is stamped in uppercase gold lettering on the spine. The front and back of the binding are blank. The book includes a dust jacket, that has the title and author on front and spine. End papers and a fly leaf are included. These papers are thicker than the leaves of the book and are of a cream, gray marble color. Transcription of spine: THE TESTAMENT | JOHN GRISHAM | DOUBLEDAY anchor & dolphin trademark sources: examining the first edition Gaskell, Philip. A New Introduction to Bibliography. United States: Oxford University Press, 1972. http://www.philobiblon.com/gbwarticle/bindterm.htm
12 Transcription of title page
Recto: (left page) JOHN | GRISHAM (right page) THE | TESTAMENT | DOUBLEDAY | New York London Toronto Sydney Auckland Verso: anchor dolphin symbol PUBLISHED BY DOUBLEDAY | a division of Random House, Inc. | 1540 Broadway, New York, New York 10036 | DOUBLEDAY and the portrayal of an anchor with a dolphin are | trademarks of Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc. | This novel is a work of fiction. Any references to real | events, businesses, organizations, and locales are intended | only to give the fiction a sense of reality and | authenticity. Any resemblance to actual persons, | living or dead, is entirely coincidental. | Book design by Paul Randall Mize | Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data applied for | ISBN 0-385-49380-0 (Hardcover) | ISBN 0-385-49381-9 (Large Print) | ISBN 0-385-49382-7 (Limited Edition) | Copyright 1999 Belfry Holdings, Inc. | All Rights Reserved | Printed in the United States of America | March 1999 | First Edition | I 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2 (while this is a transcription of the main title page, other title pages are inlcuded on the first and seventh unumbered pages of the book. These pages simply say THE TESTAMENT). sources: examining the first edition Gaskell, Philip. A New Introduction to Bibliography. United States: Oxford University Press, 1972.
13 JPEG image of title page, if available
14 Manuscript Holdings
The Mississippi State University library (Mitchell Memorial Library) includes the "John Grisham room," where many manuscripts are held for his novels. As of 9/20/2002 the manuscript for The Testament had been recieved by the library but was not a part of the processed portion of the papers. The manuscript is being inventoried and then will be an addition to the displayed papers at the library. sources: http://library.msstate.edu/grisham_room/grisham.htm Mattie Sink, Manuscripts Coordinator, Special Collections Department, Mississippi State University Library
15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)
The book includes a dust jacket. A picture of a boat on a river illuminated by a sunset can be found on the front, back, and spine of the dust jacket. A summary of the book appears on the inside flap of the dust jacket with a picture of the author on the back flap. The jacket photograph is based on an original photograph taken by Jake Wyman / Photonica. source: examining the first edition
Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History
1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A
(1) Large Print Edition Publisher: Doubleday: New York Description: p. 567 ; 25 cm March 16, 1999 (2) Book Club Edition Publisher: Doubleday Description: p. 343 ; 22 cm 1999 (3) Leather Bound - signed and numbered edition Publisher: Doubleday March 16, 1999
2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available
3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available
4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?
Doubleday (Hardcover): 1st Printing: 2.8 million copies (standard number of copies for a first printing for most of John Grisham's novels) 2nd Printing: 100,000 copies Dell/Island (paperback): 4 printings: total of 3,875,000 copies *numbers of other first edtion printings or impressions is unknown
5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A
(1) Mass Market Paperback Publisher: Dell Island Books Pages: 533 Dimensions (inches): 1.24 x 6.86 x 4.20 December 28, 1999 (2) Library Binding Publisher: Bt Bound Dimensions (inches): 1.40 x 7.18 x 4.12 March 2001 (3) Additional Paperback Publisher: Century Hutchinson December 1999 (4) The Testament Publisher: Harlow - Pearson Education Description: p. 103 ; 20 cm Retold by Karen Holmes 2001 (5) The Testament Publisher: London : Century Description: p. 435 ; 24 cm 1999 (6) The Testament Publisher: London : Reader's Digest Association Description: p. 537 : ill, ports ; 20 cm 1999
6 Last date in print?
As of October 2002, the book was still in print.
7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)
N/A
8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)
In first year of publication (1999) Doubleday sold 2,475,000 hard copies. During 1999 the publication company Dell's Island sold 3,875,000 paperback copies of The Testament. These figures are based on the Publishers Weekly bestsellers lists and are rounded down to the nearest 25,000. The hardback edition of the book listed at the #1 spot on the Publishers Weekly bestsellers list for 1999. The paperback edition placed at #2 behind John Grisham's other 1999 novel, The Street Lawyer. The paperback edition of the novel was printed four separate times. First week sales between Barnes and Noble, Borders, and Walden Books exceeded 128,000 copies. This marks the highest first week sales for a John Grisham novel. The book tied with Thomas Harris's Hannibal for longest run of eight weeks as the leading bestseller.
9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)
A specific advertising copy was not found.
10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available
11 Other promotion
In conjuction with MSNBC and Hewlett Packard, Doubleday created a web promotion for The Testament. The promotion was released in February of 1999 at www.msnbc/com/news/Grisham-Front.asp. The site consisted of trivia and excerpts from the book. Random House, the owner of Doubleday, also created a link to a John Grisham site in an effort to promote the book. The July 1999 Readers Digest also featured a select edition of the book. Amazon.com was accused of accepting money from publishing companies for promoting their books on the website. The Testament was listed as one of the books in this category of promtotion. While this is not illegal, the customers should be told that amazon recieved money from the publishing companies.
12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A
(1) Audio Download Publisher: audible.com March 14, 2002 (2) Audio Cassette (abridged) Publisher: Bantam Books-Audio Reader: Henry Leyva Dimensions (inches): 1.20 x 7.11 x 4.16 February 2, 1999 (3) Audio Cassette (unabridged) Publisher: Bantam Books-Audio Narrator: Frank Mueller Reader: Michael Beck Dimensions (inches): 2.84 x 6.31 x 4.23 February 2, 1999 (4) Audio CD (abridged) Publisher: Bantam Books-Audio Reader: Henry Leyva Dimensions (inches): 0.97 x 4.92 x 5.62 February 2, 1999 (5) Braille Publisher: Doubleday, New York Description: Braille p. 435 ; 25 cm 1999
13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A
(1)Spanish: El Testamento Publisher: Barcelona : Ediciones B Translator: Menini, Maria Antonia. Hardcover: p. 464 ; 24 cm April 1, 1999 (2) Spanish El Testamento, 3rd edition Publisher: Madrid : Suma de letras Description: p. 605 ; 19 cm. 2001 (3)Chinese Feng ren yi zhu Publisher:Taibei Shi : Taibei Xian Zhonghe Shi : Zhi ku gu fen you xian gong si; Zong jing xiao Ling yu guo ji Description: p. 605 ; 21 cm 2001 (4)Russian Zaveshchanie Publisher: Moskva : Izd-vo "AST" Description: p. 475 ; 21 cm 2001 (5) Polish Testament Publisher: Warszawa : Amber Description: p. 316 ; 21 cm 1999 (6)Korean Yuonjang Publisher: Soul-si : Sigongsa Description: 2 v. ; 23 cm 1999 (7) Japanese Tesutamento Publisher: Tokyo : Shinchosha Description: p. 461 ; 20 cm 2001 (8)French Le testament: Roman/ Publisher: Madrid : Robert Laffont Description: p. 445 ; 24cm 2000 (9)Portuguese O testamento Publisher: Rio de Janeiro : Rocco Description: 438 p. ; 21 cm Translator: Rodrigues, Aulyde Soares 1999 (10) Croatian Oporuka Publisher: Zagreb : Algoritam Description: p. 428 ; 25 cm Translator: Damir Bilicic 1999 (11) Hebrew ha-Tsavaíah Publisher: Tel-Aviv : Modan Description: p. 447 ; 22 cm Translator: ëAdi Gintsburg 1999 (12) German Das Testament : Roman / Publisher: M¸nchen : Heyne Description: p. 511 ; 22 cm 2000
14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A
Doubleday used email to create a serialization of the book. The serializaiton of the second and third chapters were sent to fans through email before the book's release date of February 2,1999. Lyris e-mail list server software was used to host the mailing list of fans. By signing up at John Grisham's website (www.jgrisham.com) fans were able to recieve the serialization for free. The use of serialization was an attempt for Doubleday to create a growing excitement for the novel. Random House is a publishing pioneer for the use of email as promotion.
15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A
There are neither sequels or prequels to The Testament.
Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author
1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)
(for an overview of John Grisham's life, please see the entry on The Chamber) John Grisham went to Mississippi State University and graduated with a law degree from Ole Miss Law School. Following graduation, he worked as a criminal defense litigator and personal injury lawyer for a small law firm in Southaven, Mississippi. Grisham also served in the Mississippi State House of Representatives from 1983 until 1990. His career as both a lawyer and a House representative are an important influence in each of his novels, including The Testament. Grisham stated in an interview with Pageonelit.com that without his legal training, he would never have written his first novel. The Testament, written in 1999, focuses on the heirs of a dying billionaire. On one hand there is Nate O'Riley who is a powerful Washington litigator and on the other hand Rachel Lane, a religious woman who has devoted her life to God. The character Nate O'Riley is the protagonist of the novel, whose career is based on Grisham's personal knowledge of the practice of law and the legal system. Grisham is also a devoted Christian who has participated in several mission trips with his church. In April 1993, he traveled to Brazil, where he helped to build small chapels for the local congregations and give medical aid to the sick. In the authors note at the end of the novel, Grisham thanks Carl King for his expedition to Brazil.
Carl King, my friend and a Baptist missionary in Campo Grande, took me deep into the Pantanal. I'm not sure how much of his information was accurate, but we had a wonderful time for four days counting alligators, photographing wildlife, looking for anacondas, eating black beans and rice, telling stories, all from a boat that somehow grew smaller. Many thanks to Carl for the adventure.
Grisham's deep religious devotion in conjunction with his various mission trips are the basis for the character Rachel Lane. In the novel, Rachel Lane travels to Brazil to work with a primitive tribe of Indians. Grisham's acts of charity are not limited to his involvement in the church. In addition, Grisham serves as the local Little League baseball commissioner. Six baseball fields have been built on his property which are home to twenty six little league teams. This act of charity is born from his lifetime dream and love of baseball.

While Grisham continues his interest in law, he tries to remain detached from the tedious and stressful proceedings of the courtroom. In 1996, after a five year break, Grisham made his last appearance in the court room. In his last trial, he earned the largest verdict of his career, winning a large sum of money for the family of a deceased railroad worker. His detachment from the courtroom has caused him to be constantly searching for new and diverse settings for his legal stories. For these reasons, Grisham chooses the Pantanal in Brazil as the background of The Testament.

During high school, Grisham admits to reading many Steinbeck novels. Although he does not believe that Steinbeck had a large influence on his writing style, he says that Steinbeck helped to shape his views of humanity. This influence is important in The Testament, which involves the search for inner strength and the futility of the American dream.

Assignment 4: Reception History
1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
While John Grisham's novel The Testament presents the usual attorney hero and a multitude of legal action, Grisham has introduced a new element in his writing. The presence of God and the search for spiritual renewal is an important aspect of The Testament. Critics were complimentary of Grisham's broadened literary themes. USA Today said "The Testament is unabashedly spiritual without being doctrinaire, a revelation that Grisham has been doing some serious soul-searching." In The Testament, Grisham was careful to not simply recreate a winning formula. This turn towards God, follows in the footsteps of his previous novel The Street Lawyer. Although this message is not new to Grisham, it marks a trend in his latest novels. The use of religious examination has caused critics to associate Grisham with great writers such as Dickens. Publisher's Weekly remarked, "Grisham's smart use of the suspense novel to explore questions of being and faith puts him squarely in the footsteps of Dickens and Graham Greene." Although The Testament is not characterized as a Christian novel, it does however teach Christian morals. Many critics stated that Grisham' ability to preach does not detract from the legal action and adventure characteristic of his novels. On the other hand, critics found The Testament, which takes place in the jungles of Brazil, to be an innovative and exciting location for a legal thriller. "Abandoning the courtroom for the Brazilian jungle...Grisham can spin an adventure yarn every bit as well as he can craft a legal thriller" (Malcolm Jones of Newsweek). Although critics found Brazil to be an interesting location, they scolded Grisham for his excessive description of the journey into the jungle. The details of travel overshadow the legal aspects of the novel. This causes the novel to read as a tribute to the Baptist missionary as opposed to a legal thriller. Critics also praise The Testament with having one of the most electrifying and well written openings of Grisham's many novels. The Toronto Sun said, "Grisham's stories have been uneven, but this is the writer at his best, a tale that is impossible to put down." The novel's excellent character development is an aspect lacking in many of Grisham's previous novels. Grisham was thus able to rectify a problem that has plagued his work. Readers are given insight into the personality, background, and motives of the novel's chief characters; Nate O'Reily and Rachel Lane. Despite superior character development, critics found the chapters depicting the lives of Troy Phelan's heirs, those fighting over his fortune, to be very confusing. Despite many literary improvements and a beneficial change of plot, critics argued that The Testament was one of Grisham's mediocre novels. It lacked the thrill of the Pelican Brief or the legal interweave of The Firm. Grisham uses the story surrounding The Testament to depict the sleazy under workings of the legal system. Publisher Weekly claims, "never has Grisham revealed so nakedly his contempt for the legal profession. In essence, Grisham has created a fast paced, page turner that exceeds the bounds of legal fiction by entering the realm of religious examination. Sources: *http://search.barnesandnoble.com/bookSearch/isbnInquiry.asp?userid=2WHK5I99C5&isbn=0440234743&displayonly=moreReviews *http://www.bookideas.com/reviews/index.cfm?fuseaction=displayReview&id=177 *http://www.crimetime.co.uk/bookreviews/testament.html *http://www.usatoday.com/life/enter/books/b984.htm *http://www.bestsellerreviews.com/g/John_Grisham/index.html *http://www.canoe.ca/JamBooksReviewsT/testament_grisham.html
2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
While John Grisham's novel The Testament presents the usual attorney hero and a multitude of legal action, Grisham has introduced a new element in his writing. The presence of God and the search for spiritual renewal is an important aspect of The Testament. Critics were complimentary of Grisham's broadened literary themes. USA Today said "The Testament is unabashedly spiritual without being doctrinaire, a revelation that Grisham has been doing some serious soul-searching." In The Testament, Grisham was careful to not simply recreate a winning formula. This turn towards God, follows in the footsteps of his previous novel The Street Lawyer. Although this message is not new to Grisham, it marks a trend in his latest novels. The use of religious examination has caused critics to associate Grisham with great writers such as Dickens. Publisher's Weekly remarked, "Grisham's smart use of the suspense novel to explore questions of being and faith puts him squarely in the footsteps of Dickens and Graham Greene." Although The Testament is not characterized as a Christian novel, it does however teach Christian morals. Many critics stated that Grisham' ability to preach does not detract from the legal action and adventure characteristic of his novels. On the other hand, critics found The Testament, which takes place in the jungles of Brazil, to be an innovative and exciting location for a legal thriller. "Abandoning the courtroom for the Brazilian jungle...Grisham can spin an adventure yarn every bit as well as he can craft a legal thriller" (Malcolm Jones of Newsweek). Although critics found Brazil to be an interesting location, they scolded Grisham for his excessive description of the journey into the jungle. The details of travel overshadow the legal aspects of the novel. This causes the novel to read as a tribute to the Baptist missionary as opposed to a legal thriller. Critics also praise The Testament with having one of the most electrifying and well written openings of Grisham's many novels. The Toronto Sun said, "Grisham's stories have been uneven, but this is the writer at his best, a tale that is impossible to put down." The novel's excellent character development is an aspect lacking in many of Grisham's previous novels. Grisham was thus able to rectify a problem that has plagued his work. Readers are given insight into the personality, background, and motives of the novel's chief characters; Nate O'Reily and Rachel Lane. Despite superior character development, critics found the chapters depicting the lives of Troy Phelan's heirs, those fighting over his fortune, to be very confusing. Despite many literary improvements and a beneficial change of plot, critics argued that The Testament was one of Grisham's mediocre novels. It lacked the thrill of the Pelican Brief or the legal interweave of The Firm. Grisham uses the story surrounding The Testament to depict the sleazy under workings of the legal system. Publisher Weekly claims, "never has Grisham revealed so nakedly his contempt for the legal profession. In essence, Grisham has created a fast paced, page turner that exceeds the bounds of legal fiction by entering the realm of religious examination. Sources: *http://search.barnesandnoble.com/bookSearch/isbnInquiry.asp?userid=2WHK5I99C5&isbn=0440234743&displayonly=moreReviews *http://www.bookideas.com/reviews/index.cfm?fuseaction=displayReview&id=177 *http://www.crimetime.co.uk/bookreviews/testament.html *http://www.usatoday.com/life/enter/books/b984.htm *http://www.bestsellerreviews.com/g/John_Grisham/index.html *http://www.canoe.ca/JamBooksReviewsT/testament_grisham.html
Assignment 5: Critical Analysis
1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)
Selling over sixty million copies of his novels, John Grisham is the bestselling author of the 1990's (Publisher's Weekly). The ability to churn out a bestselling novel each year has made him a household name and the master of the legal thriller. Written in 1999, The Testament is the tenth novel on Grisham's long list of legal blockbusters. The hardback and paperback editions of this novel listed at the #1 and #2 spots, respectively, on Publisher's Weekly's bestsellers list for 1999. The paperback edition of The Testament followed behind Grisham's other 1999 novel The Street Lawyer. Grisham has created an award winning formula for the modern American bestseller. His novels consist of suspenseful plots that take precedence over writing quality and are easily accessible to film adaptation. Grisham's name recognition, the genre of the legal thriller, the adaptation of his novels, and the ability to not only recreate a winning formula but to also expand on it, have produced a long string of bestselling novels. His ability to appeal to millions of readers in conjunction with this formula has helped carve his name in the wall of bestselling authors. After countless rejections, in June of 1988 Wynwood Press decided to publish Grisham's first novel A Time to Kill. The first printing consisted of merely five thousand copies. Only eleven years later, the first printing of The Testament yielded 2.8 million copies, which has become a standard number for the majority of Grisham's novels. Despite early publishing difficulties, after selling the rights to Grisham's second novel The Firm to Paramount Pictures, he became an overnight success and a household name. Grisham then sold the rights to The Firm to Doubleday, where it spent 47 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list and became the bestselling novel of 1991 (randomhouse.com). Under Doubleday, he assumed a fast paced book a year schedule. Doubleday's excellent marketing techniques created The Firm as a runaway bestseller and eventually helped Grisham to sell millions of copies of his many novels. Other publishers, in an effort to not but heads with a guaranteed bestseller, were forced to work their schedule around Doubleday's spring publication of Grisham novels (Barnes & Noble.com). The film adaptations of Grisham's novels have also had a tremendous impact on their record number sales. Grisham has been nicknamed the "Hurricane" by journalists due to the fact that he has taken Hollywood by storm. Grisham has had seven novels adapted to film: The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, The Chamber, A Time to Kill, The Rainmaker, and The Gingerbread Man. These film adaptations began in 1993 and continued until 1998. Since 1998, there has been a draught of Grisham based films. Although The Testament has not been portrayed on screen, it's suspenseful, twisting plot makes it an excellent candidate for the silver screen. Despite its potential success as a future film, Grisham stated that he had no desire to be involved in the movie productions of his novels (Starkville). For this reason, he has resisted the sale of movie rights to both The Testament and The Street Lawyer. An abundance of criticism, attacking Grisham's lack of character depth and surface level meaning, has caused the writer to shift the nature of his novels. The Testament is a clear example of Grisham's attempt to break the formulaic mold of the legal thriller, a mold which he shaped. Much like Mario Puzo's The Godfather and Peter Benchley's Jaws, it is clear that Grisham wrote his second novel The Firm to make money. Although he was not in debt, he was searching for financial independence from the practice of law. Subsequent to the failure of A Time to Kill, Grisham followed Writer's Digest guidelines for composing a suspense novel for his second novel The Firm (Barnes & Noble.com). With the success of The Firm, Grisham had created a formula for the bestselling legal thriller. This formula which includes fierce legal battles, interesting plot twists, and David versus Goliath themes has propelled novels such as The Testament to bestseller status. With A Time to Kill and more importantly The Firm, Grisham tapped into the lucrative market of the legal thriller. Based on his previous background as both a criminal defense attorney and a member of Mississippi's House of Representatives, Grisham has a working knowledge of the legal profession. Almost a decade of litigation has inspired a multitude of possible legal plotlines. Since A Time to Kill, Grisham has written nine other legal thrillers, including The Testament. The story of The Testament interweaves a lawyer's journey into the jungles of Brazil with vicious legal battles over the inheritance of a deceased billionaire. Grisham has once again capitalized on the public's interest in the inner workings of the legal system. In an interview with Pageonelit.com Grisham remarked: "One day, and I don't know when, I'll write other types of books. But not in the near future. I'd be foolish to abandon this genre at this time." Grisham recognizes the enormous popularity of the legal genre. Interesting and suspenseful plot lines are typical characteristics of bestselling novels. In The Testament Grisham includes his regular borage of plot twists. The premise of the story is the search for Rachel Lane, a Christian missionary working in Brazil, who has inherited eleven billion dollars from her illegitimate father, Troy Phelan. The law firm representing Mr. Phelan must honor his will by sending a lawyer, Nate O'Riley, into the jungles of Brazil in search of Rachel Lane. Grisham gives a detailed and riveting account of Nate's voyage into Brazil and the many pitfalls he must overcome. After a difficult journey and a great deal of self realization, Rachel Lane's refusal of the inheritance forces Nate to return to Washington. In Washington, Nate and his law firm devise a trust fund for the inheritance which will be donated to a number of charity organizations. When Nate returns to the jungles of Brazil in search of her signature, he finds that not only has Rachel Lane died of Malaria but she has left a will of her own. Her will constructs a similar trust and appoints Nate O'Riley as executor. Plot twists such as those in The Testament are characteristic of Grisham's bestselling novels. Suspenseful plot lines worked into the legal thriller genre are what make Grisham's novels both instant bestsellers and ripe for film adaptation. Despite a multitude of bestsellers, Grisham has been careful not to simply recreate his winning formula. In The Testament, Grisham adds the element of Christianity to the legal thriller. The Testament is a piece of literary fiction that goes beyond just entertaining, by raising important questions with inventive form. Rachel Lane is a Christian missionary who has denied materialism in her devotion to God. She is able to help transform Nate O'Riley, a troubled Washington litigator. Nate learns the meaning of friendship, survival, and sacrifice in the jungles of Brazil. This turn towards God, follows in the footsteps of his previous novel The Street Lawyer. Grisham's broadened literary themes received praise from critics. Publisher's Weekly remarked, "Grisham's smart use of the suspense novel to explore questions of being and faith puts him squarely in the footsteps of Dickens and Graham Greene." Grisham's literary successes with The Street Lawyer and The Testament, have given him the freedom to pursue other literary themes. His recent novels The Painted House, which explores themes of experience and growth, and Skipping Christmas, a comedy about the chaos of the Christmas tradition, remain courtroom free. Although in the end, Grisham returns to the success of the courtroom with his 2002 novel The Summons. Grisham's novels often retell the underdog story of David and Goliath. While The Testament does not fit as neatly as many of Grisham's other novels into this frame, it is still comparable. Although more a tale of spiritual self realization, Nate must overcome the demons of alcoholism and drug abuse that haunt his past. Unlike the other greedy and deceitful lawyers and clients in the novel, Nate is a likable character with common problems. The ability to overcome problems through God's guidance makes his character comparable to the biblical figure David. Another example of the "David and Goliath" theme can be witnessed in Grisham's first novel A Time to Kill. In this novel, a lawyer representing a black man on trial for the murder of his daughters rapists, is able to fight racism in Clanton, Mississippi. This theme is very important because it allows Grisham to express social criticism through his fiction while also giving readers hope and inspiration. Grisham also uses the "David and Goliath" theme to illustrate his contempt for the legal system. The Testament is a clear example of the modern bestseller. While it contains many of the elements of a bestselling novel, its initial popularity did not stem from the work itself, but instead relied on a previous list of bestselling novels and films. The reader's initial attraction was based on an expectation for yet another bestselling novel. It was thus important for Grisham to be creative in the recreation of his winning formula. By incorporating religious examination into the legal thriller, The Testament stands apart from many of Grisham's other novels. This unique aspect of the novel helped The Testament to sustain its popularity and become another bestseller. In an age characterized by high profile law suits, Johnnie Cochran like lawyers, and countless courtroom television dramas, the legal thriller will remain a bestselling genre. With more students in law school than practicing lawyers and cases such the O.J. Simpson trial commanding the media, America's obsession with the legal profession will only increase in subsequent years. John Grisham has recognized the public's infatuation with law and used it to publish ten bestselling novels. The Testament is no exception to this phenomenon and it is only a matter of time before it begins grossing millions of dollars not only on the book shelves but also at the box office. Sources: *Grisham, John. The Testament. New York, New York: Doubleday, 1999. *http://www.barnesandnoble.com/writers/writerdetails.asp?userid=2WHK5I99C5&cid=702011#bio *http://www.shs.starkville.k12.ms.us/mswm/MSWritersAndMusicians/writers/Grisham.html *http://www.randomhouse.com/features/grisham/books/ *http://www.pageonelit.com/interviews/JohnGrisham.html *http://www.publishersweekly.com http://www.aushomepage.com.au/Article/210/ http://www.romwell.com/books/rewiew/grisham.htm http://www.bookpage.com/BPinterviews/grisham392.html http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ts/feature/5567/102-4091857-7000102
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