New novel by Dominique Bertrand: settle accounts with the means at hand

Dominique Bertrand's new novel: settling accounts with the means at hand


Dominique Bertrand, former international model turned best-selling author, dives straight into the theme of violence, injustice and revenge in a scathing new novel, Secret gardens full of nettles. Three poated people, brought together by force of circumstance, decide to take matters into their own hands and settle their accounts with the means at hand. The ferocious book caught the eye: the television adaptation rights were acquired even before its publication.

Clara, a beautiful, wealthy and glamorous, is on the edge of the abyss. She ran aground at Thank God, a seedy truck-stop located on the edge of “La Vérandrye Park”. It was there that she met Richard, a truck driver, also flayed alive.

In a shabby room, these two beings who were not destined to meet get to know each other. Even more: by dint of talking, of giving themselves up without a filter, they will be reborn from their ashes. With the means at hand, like people who have nothing left to lose, they decide to unscrupulously settle their accounts with life. Protectors, they take the young waitress of the Thank God, Symone, pregnant, under their wing.

With courage, tenderness, openness of mind and heart, Clara, Richard and Symone will support each other, relearn how to laugh and maybe even succeed in loving each other. 

Dominique Bertrand, shocked by the many cases of violence, abuse and injustice, decided to write about these difficult subjects. She says it herself: the book “butt in the dash“.

Writing it was quite an experience. “There are passages that were so difficult to write, emotionally… Luckily I have a shrink, I can just tell you that,” she reveals.

“It touches on subjects that are very gripping, and very gripping for most normally constituted people. And my characters really had to be imbued with that. I had to find the right words to make them talk about what they are going through.”

The writer carried the emotional burden of her characters on her shoulders. 

“I am a very, very sensitive girl and my characters, what I make them live, I live it at the same time.”

When she writes, Dominique Bertrand explains that she is not necessarily writing about something that has happened to her or that loved ones have experienced, but that we always start from a sensitivity that we have, socially for example, by in relation to certain subjects. 

“We take this sensitivity and we focus it in a character. All these characters have become real people for me,” she says.

She agrees: it’s a tough book.

“But the most sensitive and desperate characters are the strongest, in the end. It's a book that also talks about resilience… and “we're tired of being fooled… and we'll take care of it ourselves”, she says, specifying that “it's is fiction”.

An inner strength

Dominique Bertrand wanted to write about despair, the very deep disappointments in life, the loss of bearings, and the fact of bouncing back, of being reborn. 

“I wanted to talk about it because people who go through it often feel like they're the only ones going through it, when most people have gone through a period in their lives where they lost their bearings. They lost what they loved most. They have the impression that they will never find the will to live again and that they will never touch happiness again. But yes, we can be reborn from our ashes.”

“I can say it first. I experienced extremely difficult grief and was able to rise from my ashes. I'm not telling you it was easy. But I had a resilience in me that allowed me to do that. A strength I had that I didn't even suspect.”

  • Dominique Bertrand, a former international model, became a television and radio host, then an author.
  • Her autobiography, Unmasked, quickly rose to the top of the bestseller charts.
  • She then published Le Pot au rose and Le coeur gros.
  • Zone 3 has acquired the television rights to her new book.
  • She is going to be a grandmother for the first time this year.


I first filled up with gas, then I went to the checkout, in the grubby little snack bar adjoining the Thank God. A neon-lit boui-boui, with ripped leatherette banquettes, decrepit blinds and formica counters studded with cigarette burns, chipped in places. The grand chic, what.

The walls showed here and there traces of mold and splashes of sauce, red wine or blood, hard to say. I thought about heading back to Montreal, but pulled myself together. I paid for my liters of gasoline to the waitress, a pretty doe-faced brunette, a kind of Audrey Hepburn who seemed to me as unhappy as the stones with her rounded pregnant belly and her bluish circles under her eyes, then I took the opportunity to ask for a room for the night.”