Scattered Love

Les amours dispersées

By: Clíona Ní Ríordáin , Maylis Besserie

Publication Date: 22 June 2023


Scattered Love by Maylis Besserie, translated by Clíona Ní Ríordáin

‘She entered the house like a shadow … She was like a divine elixir: one drop for each of my thoughts. … I could feel the breath of the warrior, the Queen of Ireland, and it intoxicated me with the wind of hope, like noble wine.’

She is Maud Gonne, the muse of writer William Butler Yeats. Yeats here returns as a ghost, having been buried in southern France in January 1939 at Roquebrune-Cap-Martin. Ten years later his remains are repatriated to Ireland. He emerges from his grave to recount his thwarted love for Maud, a story blending with the movement for Irish independence in which they each played an integral part.

Yeats’ ghost has suddenly appeared as diplomatic documents have come to light, casting doubt on the contents of the coffin brought back to Sligo for a state funeral. Where did the poet’s body go? Does he still hover ‘somewhere among the clouds above’? What remains of our loves and our deaths, if not their poetry?

Maylis Besserie’s exciting new work follows on from Yell, Sam, If You Still Can (Le tiers temps). In her second novel, she turns her attention from Samuel Beckett to another Irish writer, W.B. Yeats. The connection between Ireland and France is forged once again in the smithy of art, culture and the days at the end of life.

Read an extract from Scattered Love on RTÉ Culture here

A Guardian Most Anticipated Book of 2023

An Irish Times Most Anticipated Book of 2023

An Irish Independent Most Anticipated Book of 2023


‘Maylis Besserie’s beautiful novel casts a brilliant light on life and love and death and what remains of us … The elegant prose and fluid translation have a balming, soothing quality. It is strange and fascinating to read Yeats’s sublimely ventriloquised voice, and Madeleine’s quest is absorbing, comedic, touching and true. The magic of Yeats has new life here.’ Donal Ryan

Scattered Love is a haunting and immersive read, written with the kind of lyricality and depth of tone appropriate for a novel infused with the presence of Yeats. Besserie is almost painterly in the way she employs words, drawing her readers deep into the story she’s telling. This is a poem of a novel; the perfect vehicle for capturing Yeats in all his rich complexity.’ Jan Carson

‘A truly beautiful literary novel from a wonderful storyteller.’ Joseph O’Connor

‘A novel that is at once compelling, highly inventive and even, in places, horribly funny … Scattered Love, like Maylis Besserie’s previous novel, Yell, Sam, If You Still Can, which was based on the final years of Samuel Beckett, is a splendid feat of ingenuity and imagination.’ John Banville, TLS

‘It is a story told not so much in the shadow of the grave as from beyond the grave [with] an ingenious plot twist. … Scattered Love is richly allusive, and Besserie is fortunate to have Clíona Ní Ríordáin as translator, who is alive to the multiple embeddings of history, literature and myth in this baroque tale of a dead poet and his wandering bones. If the Irish way of doing death is often regarded as highly distinctive, a French author’s way of undoing some of these Irish ends proves to be equally compelling.’ Michael Cronin, Irish Times

‘Beautiful and original … Besserie, a broadcaster at the France Culture radio station, researched Scattered Love like an investigative reporter. … [She] has shown an uncanny ability to adopt the personas first of Beckett and now of Yeats. Her prose is permeated with their vocabulary and imagery.’ Lara Marlowe, Irish Times

Read an interview with Maylis Besserie in the Irish Times here

‘A captivating and emotionally charged narrative … Readers familiar with [Yeats’s] life and work will recognise how the novel pays homage to the great poet, but Scattered Love will also enrapture even those who may not be familiar with him. Originally written in French, the novel is translated so masterfully by Clíona Ní Riordáin that it is hard to believe it was written in a language other than English. The musicality and rhythm of Besserie’s prose, majorly preserved in the English translation, retains the novel’s poetic style. … Scattered Love is a spellbinding narrative that defies the boundaries between the living and the dead, past and the present.’ Midia Mohammadi, Irish Independent

‘Last year, Maylis Besserie’s debut novel Yell, Sam, if You Still Can was a personal standout for this reader, an imagining of Beckett’s final days in a Paris nursing home. It was sublime. This year Besserie has produced another work of stunning beauty, a novel built on the reasonable assumption that whoever is lying in Yeats’ grave in Sligo, it ain’t him. Or, at the very least, he’s got company … It is, like its predecessor, a work deserving of infinite superlatives, a true reader’s banquet, brought luminously alive in English from the French through the immeasurable talent of translator Clíona Ní Ríordáin.’ Anne Cunningham, Westmeath Independent

Peppered with allusions to the great poet, and tenderly told, this is an outstanding work, brilliantly translated by Clíona Ní Ríordáin.’ Offaly Independent


Maylis Besserie was born in Bordeaux and now lives in Paris. She works as a producer for the radio channel France Culture. Besserie’s connection with Ireland started when her family sent her to spend summers in Ireland to learn English. Yell, Sam, If You Still Can (Le Tiers Temps) was her first novel and won Le Prix Goncourt du Premier Roman, 2020.

Clíona Ní Ríordáin is Professor of English at the University Sorbonne Nouvelle-Paris 3, where she teaches Irish literature and translation studies and convenes the Master’s programme in Irish Studies. Her most recent book is English Language Poets in University College Cork 1970-1980 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020).

Also available as an ebook
Weight 0.3 kg
Dimensions 216 × 136 mm

Paperback w/ Flaps

Publication Date

22 June 2023

You may also like…