Reading Sycamore Row by John Grisham earlier this week, I was struck by how topical the whole issue of trials over wills can be. Caitriona Murphy wrote a piece for the Farming Independent this week about how an ill-planned will can really bring trauma and heartache – not just if family members fall out when they hear the will but also if the will is challenged in court. ?It has happened that sons have been promised farms and worked for next to nothing on a promise – to eventually find that the farm has been left to someone else in the parent’s will – some of these go to court which is, of course, expensive as well as traumatic. The article advises on how to prevent these scenarios.
Sycamore Row is a sequel to A Time To Kill, a book I have read a couple of times as well as watched the film. Jake Brigance takes on the case whereby a black man shoots the two white men that raped his young daughter and left her for dead. Sycamore Row is set three years later (in 1988) and yet again Jake Brigance finds race is a huge issue in his latest case. Jake is skint, he has been barely managing financially since the Hailey case and is living in a small rented house since the deliberate burning of their period house.
Seth Hubbard, a farmer and lumber business man, white, unpopular, hardworking, seemingly a loner, in his 70s, hangs himself under a sycamore tree before cancer finishes his life. He knows that his will may be contested by his family so he writes a letter to Jake which arrives the day after the suicide. ?He leaves 90% of his valuable estate to his black housekeeper of three years. The question everyone (including the housekeeper) is wondering is Why? He cuts his children and grandchildren out of his will – Why? ?He refers to a terrible incident that was viewed by himself and his (perhaps deceased long lost) brother in his letter – what is it and why did it affect them so terribly? Considering he was on so much medication for his cancer, was he sane when he made his will? What will the jury decide?
I really enjoyed this book and read it in two sittings. Really recommend it.