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The Daylight Gate

3.3 of 5 stars 3.30  ·  rating details  ·  2,452 ratings  ·  506 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
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
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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Leah
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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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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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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Craig
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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Hannah
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.


Gerhardt Himmelmann
"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
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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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
Ronel
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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ROSSON
[TRIGGER WARNING: both the book and this review need to come with a trigger warning for rape.]

The Daylight Gate is a difficult book for me to review, for two reasons: firstly, because I really loved it and struggle to believe that there is as much negative criticism of this book as there is. And secondly, because I haven't read a Winterson novel before or very much magical realism and literary fantasy so it's hard to contextualise this book to the wider market. So instead, I'm just going to make
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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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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
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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tee
I would read anything written by Winterson even if she just scrawled limericks across a toilet stall door in her own excrement. That being said, I don't promise to always love it. I recently watched Mildred Pierce (the 2011 version) and I thought, would I have liked this if Kate Winslet weren't in it? No, I wouldn't have.

Would I have liked this book if Winterson hadn't written it. Nah, probably not. I don't think it's the fault of the author ... entirely. It's just not the kind of thing I usual
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Jean Roberta
This beautifully-written, heartbreaking novel about the 1612 trial of the “Lancashire Witches” is based on a contemporary account by lawyer Thomas Potts: The Wonderfull Discoverie of Witches in the Countie of Lancashire. The word “wonderful” had a considerably less positive meaning at the time than it does now, and Potts’ account is hardly objective. Potts shared the official government view of “popery” (Catholicism) and “witchery” (broadly interpreted) as set forth by the very Protestant King J ...more
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
Teresa
The Daylight Gate is a short, compelling novella about the trial of the Pendle Witches in 1612. I didn’t know much about the historical background to these events but the author’s introduction provides a brief summary plus the admission that she has played around with the facts and added some of her own inventions. I don’t have a problem with authors reworking historical events as it can revitalise and add spice to well-worn stories but perhaps the real purists would be advised to stay clear of ...more
Ctgt
There is still a tradition, or a superstition, that a girl-child born in Pendle Forest should be twice baptised; once in the church and once in a black pool at the foot of the hill. The hill will know her then. She will be its trophy and its sacrifice. She must make peace with her birthright, whatever that means.

A "what might have happened" story using the Trial of the Lancashire Witches, 1612 as the basis for the narrative. While the book was well written I was never intrigued by the story itse
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Mo22

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.
Núria
No es que yo sea una experta en Jeanette Winterson. Hasta ahora sólo había leído dos de sus libros. Pero dos libros sobran y bastan para darse cuenta que tiene un estilo muy particular, que se caracteriza por un romanticismo exacerbado y un lenguaje poético llevado casi hasta la exasperación. Es un estilo que te puede gustar más o menos, pero no se puede negar que es propio. Sin embargo, en 'La mujer de púrpura' prácticamente no hay nada de esto. Es un libro que podría haberlo escrito cualquiera ...more
Wanda
Dec 05, 2013 Wanda marked it as to-read
5 DEC 2013 -- because the Pendle witches and their story fascinates me. Need to re-read The Lancashire Witches.

See this --
http://publicdomainreview.org/2012/08...
Sarah Swedberg
Don't read this book if you are prone to nightmares. Beautifully written, of course. Winterson has imagined Lancaster, England at the height of the witch scares. James is on the throne and Catholics and women (poor, rich, powerful -- in any way different) are being put to death in horrible ways. At the center is Alice Nutter (beautiful, wealthy, powerful), and around her--focused on her--are a handful of others.

Winterson assembled the characters from history, although she created lives for them
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George
If you'd asked me for a list of authors who would be well-suited to write a book about 17th-century witch trials, Winterson's name would definitely have come at or near the top. And this particular case, in which the accused includes a wealthy woman named Alice Nutter (inspired by true events, although Winterson warns you in her Introduction about the varying degrees of artistic license she's employed), fits so well with all of the themes of feminism, sexuality, power, and myth that have become ...more
Tony
THE DAYLIGHT GATE. (2012). Jeanette Winterson. ***.
This is a tale of witches and witchcraft set in the England of James I. James, a rabid Protestant and the author of the text, “Daemonology,” lumped witches and Catholics together. They were the targets of numerous raids and inquisitions. After the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, most Catholics decamped to Lancashire, a region well away from London. The story focuses on Alice and her companions. Alice is a woman of undetermined age who was said to be ble
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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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