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The Daylight Gate

3.32  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,466 Ratings  ·  652 Reviews
The Daylight Gate, an instant bestseller in the UK, is award-winning Jeanette Winterson’s singular vision of a dark period of complicated morality, sex, and tragic plays for power in a time when politics and religion were closely intertwined.

After the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, every Catholic conspirator in England fled to a wild, untamed place far from the reach of London la
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Hardcover, 224 pages
Published October 1st 2013 by Grove Press (first published January 1st 2012)
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T.D. Whittle
Sep 28, 2014 T.D. Whittle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews
I had written much of this in response to others' reviews and comments, and then decided that I should just post it as my own review, mainly by way of arguing that it was never Winterson's point to "have all the historical data correct", and that it is silly to expect that of her. She is not that kind of writer. She states upfront, in the Introduction:

"The story I have told follows the historical account of the witch trials ... but with necessary speculations and inventions."

"My Alice Nutter is
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Sam Quixote
SPOILERS

Alice Nutter is a witch but one of the good ones who uses her powers to keep her looking young and letting the poor live on her land for free. But it turns out one of the poor wretches living on her land is one of the bad witches - who also used to be Alice’s girlfriend! But she’s all old and wrinkly because The Devil chose Alice instead of her. This might seem important but it’s a plot point that’s never really built upon so it means absolutely nothing. I mean, is youthfulness purely th
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Carrie
Jan 20, 2013 Carrie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Living near Pendle and having a keen interest in the history of the witch trials, I was very excited to hear about this book. I thought that a well respected writer would do a good job of re-telling the story, but I was to be very disappointed. To say that the book is based on fact is utterly misleading. The names used are the names of real people, and yes, the places are too, but that's where any research into the subject matter ends. On the 400th anniversary of the trial, there has been a call ...more
Alex Hammond
Jeanette Winterson is one of my favourite authors. However, The Daylight Gate felt a little thin. Yes, it is a novella, so it's intended to be a shorter work, but it felt stretched out. The Passion, one of her earlier novellas, which this piece is in some ways reminiscent of being also supernaturally themed, felt more like a larger work bulging against its length. The Daylight Gate feels at times like the opposite, that it should do more, go further.

Winterson has the profound ability to constru
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Rand
TRIGGER WARNING, details below beneath the "spoiler" tag.

Historical fiction can be hit or miss, depending upon one's interest in the given subject and the author's abilities and execution. For those who are fascinated by witchcraft and/or the waning of Queen Elizabeth's influences on England (Gunpowder Plot, anyone?) this is a quick and enjoyable read.

(view spoiler)
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Jonathan

With university starting back in two weeks for me, I've managed to get to some of the unread books on my list. My reading material has doubled for this year due to the extra literature units I am required to take to finish off my course. Normally something like The Daylight Gate would not quite be on my 'must read' list but I am certainly glad I was forced to take the time to read it.

The beginning of the book starts out very strongly. So strongly that I was tempted to give it a four star rating
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DeeLee
Don't be fooled, people- this is a horror story. And I mean that as praise.

The Daylight Gate is a snapshot of the events leading up to the famous trial of the Pendle witches. It's not a straight history, (view spoiler) but Winterson has obviously done her research.

I've not read Winterson before now, so had no expectations of her writing. In this book I was struck by the prose. She writes very lean, but still manages to evok
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Craig
Jul 26, 2013 Craig rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Daylight Gate exists at a crossroads, between fact and fiction, reality and fantasy, and prose and poetry. Jeanette Winterson uses History to spin a mediation on persecution, feminism, polyamory, power, religion and abuse.

The history she uses this time is that of the Pendle witch trials in the 1600s of Britain. A group of women and men were hanged for witchcraft, and using everything from flights of fantasy to ribald humor to Grand Guignol horror, Winterson tells their tales. The main prota
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Leah
Jul 19, 2013 Leah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary, magical
Neat, sparse prose in a very short book about the Pendle witch trials, by a woman. This is unusual in itself, as men seem to be the ones generally fascinated by the horrific persecution of poverty-stricken women in recently excommunicated England.

The handling of the characters is delicate and complex - on the one hand, they are desperately pitiable, filthy and poor with no possible hope of relief. On the other, they are nasty, vicious women (and a young man) who have no compassion for Alice Nut
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Sharon
(This book was kindly gifted by The Reading Room for review)

The Daylight Gate is a fictional tale telling of the factual events that occurred surrounding the Pendle Witches. This tale focuses on the famous historical figure of Alice Nutter, who was said by accounts to be a wealthy woman who owned land which she rented out to the less fortunate who were also accused of witchcraft and subsequently hung at the gallows. In doing a bit of research into this story, there are elements of the truth wove
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Sally Whitehead
Incredibly disappointing. I’m a fan of Winterson, and I am very interested in the Pendle Witch Trials...so where does “The Daylight Gate” go SO wrong?

Well, if I hadn’t been told who had written it I would never have guessed it was Jeanette Winterson as I don’t associate her with such a simplistic style. I wondered at times if I was reading a children’s book, but some of the content is far too graphic, and besides I’ve read Winterson’s “Tanglewreck” and it’s clever and really well written. The di
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Alan Baxter
This book was a dichotomy. Parts of it I really enjoyed, but the story, while based on true events, was too light on intrigue and the characters never really shone for me. The most developed character was the main character of Alice Nutter, but I had real trouble buying anything I was told about her. So much about her seemed artificial, with no basis or real explanation.

On the other hand, aspects of the story were really gripping and engaging. This would normally be a good thing, but there's a
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Hannah
Nov 18, 2013 Hannah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A strange and weirdly entertaining book (really a short story) based on the Pendle witch trials in Lancashire, England in the early 1600's.

Winterson has penned a disturbingly graphic and atmospheric story that manages to be both modern in its approach and yet evoke the bleak, almost otherworldly nature of the early 17th century.

Another book in a similar vein that comes close to my take-away feeling for The Daylight Gate is A Mirror For Witches, which was likewise an unsettling, compelling read.


Aric Cushing

The fact that Winterson can evince so much beauty amidst such depravity is a testament to her writing abilities. The story revolves around the witch trial of 1604.
Shakespeare appears as a secondary character, graves are dug up, the devil beckons, and luckily, the ending isn't a tiresome depiction of witch burnings. The best book I've ever read about witches, set against a backdrop of historical accuracy.
Hannah Lockhart
Gah! I had just written this super long, super detailed review of this and then low and behold, I dropped my mouse on the floor and it exited my browser for no f---in' reason. F---. Witchcraft!

So I will be far more succinct in this review (perhaps it was all a sign...eery).

“It does not matter what you believe. Believe what is”

There are two ways, I believe, one can read this book. For all intents and purposes, this book is a horror story. It is based loosely upon actual events; the Pendle witc
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Ruediger Landmann
"The Daylight Gate" is a (mostly) historical novella based on a group of witch trials in Lancashire in 1612. The trials were unusual for two main reasons: they were very well documented (and the documentation is still extant) and one of the accused was a woman of far greater social standing than was usual in such events. Winterson treats the second of these issues in her story of the "Pendle witches", providing a fictional background to Alice Nutter and postulating how and why she might have com ...more
Ronel
Sep 13, 2012 Ronel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Welcome back, Jeanette Winterson!

I bought the Daylight Gate yesterday and finished it this morning. Awesome,fantastic, shocking, chilling.

Thomas Hobbes famously described a man's life as "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short." It is such an apt description of the lives of most women during the Middle Ages. If you managed to survive giving birth to 20 children, chances were that you would then, in old age be burnt as a witch (especially if you were disfigured by the ravages of time).

This bo
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Blair
The Daylight Gate is a novella about the Pendle witch trials, written by Jeanette Winterson for the Hammer publishing imprint. Set in 1612, it follows the events that unfold over a short period of time as a group of supposed witches congregates, a wealthy woman is accused of being one of them, and a Catholic dissident tries to re-enter the country. The historical narrative is woven with elements of magical realism - I wouldn't quite call it fantasy, because at times it is so realistic that it's ...more
Nikki
Gah, I have no luck at the moment with books. Normally I enjoy Jeanette Winterson's work for the prose and the brief shining ideas, but nothing about this shone for me -- not even the prose. Based on a historical event, The Daylight Gate is a story of witches and spirits and poverty. It's the very typical view of the Middle Ages -- dirt and poverty and witches. And Catholics. Witchery popery popery witchery, as Potts puts it.

At least I'm getting all the meh books out of the way? And it was a qui
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Ben Thurley
Wow, but this novella is dark. Loosely based on the Lancashire Witch Trials of the early Seventeenth Century, it's a very disturbing read. The Daylight Gate (the time at twilight during which the Dark Gentleman is apt to come calling) is graphic and uncompromising in its depiction of the depradations of the rich upon the poor, and the State's work of exerting authority over the body politic through the torturer's art. There are also horrible suggestions, or outright portrayals, of child abuse, i ...more
HacheC
Jul 08, 2015 HacheC rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brujería, magia negra y la época más oscura de Inglaterra. Una novela extremadamente oscura y basada en un hecho real, el juicio de un grupo de mujeres en Lancashire en 1.620
Mo22
Sep 03, 2012 Mo22 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

Don't read this and expect to read a factual historical account of the Pendle Witch cases. This book weaves fact and fiction, sometimes successfully sometimes not. Its a great book for a winters afternoon by the fire. But, on another level it examines how women have been treated over history, and perhaps are still treated. I couldn't take to the central character, who becomes a sort of Lesbian prototype Feminist. Its not a bad book by any means, but it could be a much better book, in my humble.
Bjorn
Jun 02, 2015 Bjorn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uk
The Daylight Gate has the makings of a very good historical horror novel. Set during a witch trial in the early 17th century, it gives Winterson a chance to delve into a lot of things - how "witch", in times of political, social and scientific upheaval, becomes a very deliberate synonym for "heretic", "terrorist", "deviant", anything that threatens the Order Of Things. "Witch" is a powerful word to use against someone, impossible to defend yourself against since its definition also includes "upp ...more
Annabeth Leong
This is a tough thing to evaluate. Writing-wise and structure-wise, the book is incredibly well-executed. But there was an emptiness to it that I couldn't get around.

I have complicated feelings about reading things that are full of as much physical and sexual violence as The Daylight Gate is. Obviously, it is about witch trials, so I should have known I would be reading descriptions of torture. At the same time, I want to know that I've gone through that experience for a reason. It's hard to sa
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Heidi
After reading the reviews on goodreads, I was not excited for this book. Overall, most people didn't enjoy it. However, whether it be my low expectations or just the writing, I loved this book.

Based on the true events of the Pendle Witches, this book is Winterson's interpretation and creation of the occasion. The writing was really simple and concise, yet the characters were so vivid. What I really loved was the modern ideology of feminism, equality, misogyny and sexuality into a time where thes
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Ali
May 05, 2016 Ali rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
“This is Lancashire. This is Pendle. This is witch country”

The Daylight Gate is published by Hammer, who I believe commission novels from a variety of writers. That really should be enough to alert the reader to what comes next. I read The Greatcoat by Helen Dunmore also published by Hammer – although that is just a bit of an atmospheric, ghostly tale, nothing too disturbing about it. There is a little more of the horror/occult about this short novel – and Winterson is uncompromising in her depi
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Peg
This seemed to want to be several different things but never really followed through with any of them. Vaguely interesting premise, a couple of intersting characters, but basically I found it a hot mess.
Danna
The Daylight Gate is another addition to the recent string of unsatisfying books I've been reading. It's a best seller in the UK, so I'm not sure what I'm missing. It was a challenge for me to finish this book because I never quite felt I knew what was going on. Here's what I did understand:

It's the 1600s and Lancashire, England is terrified of the presumed witches in its midst. The law arrests suspects, and then tortures them and threatens the death penalty. The suspects, eager to save their ow
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Sooz
Feb 27, 2013 Sooz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
if there is one thing i have learned about Jeanette Winterson it's that she has a great imagination .... AND a great ability to express that imagination in language. is that one thing or two? i guess i would also add that she believes truth is subjective and would rather allow her imagination free rein than restrict her stories to facts.

so is The Daylight Gate historically accurate? will you learn a lot about the events of the great witch hunts of the 1600's? about the facts? the key players? ma
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Susan
Sep 30, 2013 Susan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novella length read is based on the most notorious of English witch trials - and also the first to be documented - that of the Lancashire (or Pendle) witches in 1612. I know virtually nothing about these events, so I cannot comment on how realistic an account this is, but they are interesting for several reasons; not least because one of the 'witches' on trial was a woman of higher social status and wealth than usual. Winterson weaves a tale around these events, although it is a slightly co ...more
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Novelist Jeanette Winterson was born in Manchester, England in 1959. She was adopted and brought up in Accrington, Lancashire, in the north of England. Her strict Pentecostal Evangelist upbringing provides the background to her acclaimed first novel, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, published in 1985. She graduated from St Catherine's College, Oxford, and moved to London where she worked as an assi ...more
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