John Grisham is a church goer and as far a I know a committed Christian.  I still think Grisham’s, according to one interview I read semi-autobiographical,  The Testament is one of the best Christian novels I have read.

Then along comes The Appeal. This is an interesting book because while the outcome is obvious the route to it is not.  Grisham’s characters in this book are sympathetic for the lovable ones and horribly vindictive for those you are to loath.  This is fiction based on some ideas and situations of real life.

The plot revolves around three groups of people, the small people, big business and the legal fraternal who has to interact on behalf of both. The small people are from the South and have small town lawyers and churches on their side.  Big business is, of course, New York based and deliberately woos other churches to its side. The legal profession is in between and is shown to be at the mercy more of big business than not.  This is Grisham’s point and he is quite obvious in the author’s notes how he wants things to change in the legal profession.

As I said the outcome is expected but the route is not and the suspense towards the end when one of the characters starts to change sides – like the old American joke – “What’s a republican?  A democrat who has been mugged” – makes you wonder how things will turn out.

The use of churches as part of the backdrop is an interesting reflection of how churches can get co-opted, by either side in a debate, to causes they themselves do not understand well enough.   It continues to make me think about how as churches we need discernment.

Overall a satisfying read and a reminder “what does it profit a man if he has the whole world and loses his soul?”

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