The Testament Study Guide

The Testament

The Testament by John Grisham

Troy Phelan , an eccentric, reclusive, ruthless billionaire businessman, commits suicide. In order to cut his family out of his will, he makes a fake will a few hours before his suicide, putting his family into that will. Minutes before his suicide, he shows his lawyer a new will that he would like carried out. This will leave only enough money to each of his heirs to pay off their debts up until the day of his death, and leaves everything else to Rachel Lane, an illegitimate daughter that none of his family and associates have known about.

Josh Stafford , Troy's lawyer, confidante, and executor, must find Rachel, but he knows only that she is a missionary somewhere in Brazil. He decides to assign Nate O'Riley, former high-powered litigator and recovering alcoholic, to find her. Nate is emerging from his fourth stay in rehab, and he reluctantly agrees to go. Josh manipulates the situation from behind the scenes.

Rachel Lane , an illegitimate daughter who Troy wills eleven billion dollars to. She is a missionary in Brazil who wants nothing to do with the money and refuses to sign any legal papers. She was re-contacted by her father when she was a teenager. Troy paid for her to study at college, but she then disappeared into medical school and seminary. She died by contracting malaria.

Nate O'Riley , the lawyer sent to find Rachel Lane. He has been off-and-on drugs/alcohol several times, crashing harder every time. A workaholic whose habits have shattered both of his marriages, he is sent to Brazil to get him away from the office. He has two children from his first marriage and two younger children from his second marriage. His encounter with Rachel eventually sets him on a path to spiritual redemption. He grew feelings for Rachel, before she passed away.

The Phelan Children , six children that were born to three different women (a seventh one died in a car accident). All of them, despite being given The Gift of $5 million at the age of 21 - are either broke or heavily in debt. They are desperate for a cut of Troy's wealth and employ even greedier lawyers.

  • Troy Junior : The oldest child. On his second marriage, his business ventures always end in failure. Was kicked out of college for selling drugs. Completely spent his $5 million before he was thirty, and was fired from multiple positions in his father's company.
  • Rex Phelan : The second child. Currently owes more than 7 million dollars, and is under investigation by the FBI for being a director in a failed bank. Runs a series of strip clubs although all his assets are in his wife's name, herself an ex-stripper.
  • Libbigail Phelan Jeter : The oldest daughter by Troy's first marriage. Long history of drug abuse. Currently married to her 3rd husband, an ex-biker she met while in rehab.
  • Mary Ross Phelan Jackman : The youngest child by Troy's first marriage. The only Phelan heir still married to their first marriage. Considered the least volatile and most level-headed of her siblings, being the only one without any arrests, addictions or expulsions. She and her husband (an orthopedist) live a wealthy lifestyle but are heavily in debt.
  • Geena Phelan Strong : The surviving child of Troy's second marriage (her brother Rocky was killed in a car crash in high school). Married to her second husband, whose business ventures have all been poor investments. Described as her husband as being "two immature kids living a pampered life with someone else's money, and dreaming of the big score."
  • Ramble Phelan : The youngest child overall, and the only one by Troy's third marriage. 14 years old and hasn't received any money yet. Only attends school when he feels like it, lives in his basement, avoids his mother as much as possible, has never had a paying job, played any sports or seen the inside of a church. Likes to play the guitar and dreams of being a rock star. Considered to be the "scariest" of the Phelan heirs.

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