May the admirers of Maud Graham be reassured: the fetish character of Chrystine Brouillet will indeed return in a twentieth survey of the popular series of novels next year. Rather than plunging the investigator from Quebec into the pandemic era without knowing how it was going to end, the prolific author preferred to focus on a movement that she feared to see disappear, that of the denunciation of sexual assault. To his surprise, COVID-19 hasn’t stopped a few heads from rolling in the past year.

“I told myself that it would be a disaster if the movement were to disappear; So I wanted to put it back in the spotlight through the novel. And I was wonderfully wrong: the movement has not lost its vigor, quite the contrary! “

Taking place from 1981 to 2018, To word against mine follows the development of four childhood friends, Jacques Gervais, Clovis Marceau, Nelson Morin and Derry Walsh, who maintain a toxic relationship tinged with childish competition, a futile search for recognition and an unhealthy desire to break the law. Over the decades, the four of them will take different paths, but a dark secret will prevent them from ending their relationship: the rape of a sweet and naive young girl, Faye Dubois.

In parallel, Chrystine Brouillet follows the investigation of Myriam Langelier, ambitious journalist of the written press who fully intends to reveal in broad daylight the abject behavior of Jacques Gervais, who believes himself all allowed by his status of star host . Myriam’s research will lead her to discover horrible secrets.

“It happens in the cultural world, but it could also have happened in the world of sport or business because we know that there is also crap. It happens in all areas where there are men who think that power allows them to do everything. Fortunately, there are also normally constituted men who do not approve of these behaviors, which they find ridiculous and deleterious and who damage their image as upright and clean men who do not want to be part of this. type of boys’ club. Around me, the men are feminists and think that women are worth as much as men. “

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Entertainment and reflection

If Maud Graham is not around, Chrystine Brouillet camps a good part of the action on her favorite ground, the Old Capital with its European charms and its good restaurants. At times, one has the impression that the investigator is watching from afar over the ongoing investigation, that her shadow is looming over the scene of the crime, that she is cooking up good meals in the privacy of her home.

“There are restaurants, some of which no longer exist, pastry shops, champagne… but there are fewer celebratory scenes than usual – there are some in Faye’s happy memories. Myself, by writing these scenes, I relived beautiful moments. And since I am a professional, each restaurant has been tested! “

Like other novels by Chrystine Brouillet, His word against mine is what we call in literary jargon a page turner or, if you prefer, an “accrolivre”. We take pleasure in following the many ramifications of the investigation, in disentangling the knots, in loathing copiously some male protagonists, in being fond of his young heroine thirsty for justice. But there is still more.

“In the beginning, it’s fiction, entertainment. When I open a novel, I want to take my mind off things, forget about my daily life, but if it makes me think at the same time, why not? We all know women to whom something has happened, from the nasty thing to the most tragic. I find that young people no longer accept what we have tolerated. Thanks to young people and movements like #MoiAussi, a whole society will change. And that’s great! “

It happens in the cultural world, but it could also have happened in the world of sport or business because we know that there is also crap. It happens in all areas where there are men who think that power allows them to do everything. Fortunately, there are also normally constituted men who do not approve of these behaviors, which they find ridiculous and deleterious and who damage their image as upright and clean men who do not want to be part of this. kind of “boys’ club”.

Despite the pleasure, we often want to slow down the reading of the novel, to put it down for a brief moment or more. Not to prolong the pleasure of being in the universe of the novelist, but because the latter reminds us over the course of the story of famous cases of abuse of power, sexual assault, feminicides. As if Chrystine Brouillet had wanted to deliver a little story of the great crimes against women.

“When I did the research to write the novel, I took for each year everything that was happening in the world, in Quebec, and I was obviously looking for judgments. There are judges who have said scandalous things, without tail or head. There are things that we have forgotten a little and when they come right in your face, we wonder how we could have tolerated them. “

The author even goes so far as to choose a landmark date in our history, December 6, to conclude Myriam’s investigation. A choice that is not innocent: “No, no, no! I really watched everything that had happened against women. And there was a lot of crap, horrible things, tragedies. There are things I didn’t put in because I wasn’t there to teach a history class and I didn’t feel like putting footnotes. I wanted smooth reading. So there are things that I sacrificed by telling myself that they would have been too much. The choices were cruel. “

Humble, Chrystine Brouillet does not provide answers or solutions to violence against women in His word against mine. However, she is optimistic about it. As she will repeat during the interview, it is education that will have the effect of changing behavior and society.

“And benevolence. And listen, she adds. We have to look at the way in which the victims – both women and men – are supported. I think they need more listening, more information, more respect, more kindness and that’s what I wanted to show in this novel whose title sums up this obstacle course. . Basically, I’m only bringing my stone to the building because we must continue to talk about it, to denounce. “

His word against mine

Chrystine Brouillet, Druide, Montreal, 2021, 432 pages

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