- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: Hammer (14 Mar. 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0099561832
- ISBN-13: 978-0099561835
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.6 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (99 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 25,590 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Daylight Gate (Hammer) Paperback – 14 Mar 2013
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"If you like her other novels, you will adore this. She has done her homework... the beauty of the writing, exemplary in its pared-down simplicity. It’s so seductive that by the middle I was hooked." (Independent)
"Sharp-eyed view of history... Winterson is at her best her when she’s dealing with real horrors." (Observer)
"This is a dazzling book. Winterson is a deft storyteller and a writer of wonderful economy. It is one of the very few contemporary novels that I actually wished were longer." (Literary Review)
"A book worth reading – utterly compulsive, thick with atmosphere and dread, but sharp intelligence too...Ultimately she combines compelling history and poetic dialogue with suspense...This rather more sophisticated story would make a particularly vivid film." (Telegraph)
"Winterson seamlessly blends history with fiction... The Daylight Gate is an enthralling story unfussily told, I read it all in one sitting, only wishing there were more." (Evening Standard)
Based on the Pendle witch trials of 1612, an extraordinary story of magic, superstition, and ruthless murder by Jeanette Winterson, author of Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The problem is that there's far too much going on in such a short novella, and that the whole thing gets increasingly convoluted as stray characters walk in and out. We have incursions, for example, from the retired Shakespeare making cryptic comments about magic, John Dee and Ned Kelley casting spells and appearing both in the flesh and after death, a lesbian love-affair (this is Winterson, after all!), an ex-Gunpowder Plot conspirator, and a magic elixir of youth...
The narrative shifts between `witches' as poor women who are victims of anti-female, anti-Catholic prejudices - and real witches who have sold their souls to the devil, which tends to dilute any political message that the text might want to make. It's also extremely disappointing that the one boon our `real' witch has is the aforesaid magic elixir of youth which keeps her young and beautiful...
So I'm afraid this is a disappointing read which is actually a bit incoherent. There's no historical sense of the seventeenth century, and the gory sex `n' torture scenes feel a bit gratuitous and sensational. An interesting experiment from Ms Winterson but, sadly, not one which worked for me.
Unfortunately it comes across as hastily written (the hardback copy I received from Amazon was riddled with typos), the language is not particularly evocative, and the ideas behind the basic plotline are muddled. I found a lot of it completely implausible and I didn't really feel any empathy for any of the characters. The talking head just made me laugh (sorry!)
I wasn't expecting historical accuracy, but from Winterson I would have expected a bit more scepticism and a feminist outlook on the events of 1612, not so much actual real witchery popery popery witchery, which just came across as faintly ludicrous. I don't mind graphic details, but to be honest a lot of this was lurid and trashy.
Of course, writers don't always do what you might expect them to do, and that's fine, but it just didn't work for me. Probably didn't help that I'd just finished Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel, and as a piece of historical fiction this didn't match up to it in any way, shape or form.
While much of the text remains relatively faithful to the known facts, Winterson allows herself the occasional flight of fancy, especially the incorporation of Dr Dee and Shakespeare into the narrative. Her Alice Nutter is a very modern figure, an entrepreneurial sceptic with male and female lovers. This seems to have generated some rage amongst purists, but her more fanciful notions never detract from the emotional punch of the text. Winterson's skill as a novellist is revealed most strongly by her treatment of the witches' beliefs, and by the manipulation of the starving peasant children by their worldly interrogators. The destruction of the women as they await trial in Lancaster castle's squalid dungeons is especially affecting.
At 194 double-spaced pages, The Daylight Gate feels a little insubstantial, but Winterson's narrative provides a hefty dose of drama in a short volume. The pace never lets up, as characters are drawn ever further into the mass of lies and betrayals which will ensure their downfall. The characters are well drawn, with none falling into stereotype, and we see multiple viewpoints.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Jeanette Winterson has created another view of the Pendle Witch Trials. An event which is embedded in the folklore of Lancashire and is still talked about as if it happened... Read morePublished 3 months ago by adele taylor
Too short, very easy to read, possibly a YA fiction book? They are making it into a film apparently, why?? Read morePublished 7 months ago by Neil
Sorry but I found this book disappointing, maybe I have read too many on the subject that were better but it did nothing for me. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Claire Verity
So says Thomas Potts, clerk of the Lancaster Assizes, whose account of THE WONDERFULL DISCOVERIE OF WITCHES IN THE COUNTIE OF LANCASTER reveals the lengths James the First's... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Crispin Allan
Published in 2012 to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the Pendle Witch Trials, one of the most well documented examples of witch hunts in English history, this novella... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Macey89
This is Jeanette Winterson, so of course, I love it. It has everything that she is so good at - the portrayal of passionate, intense emotions, wonderful mysterious atmosphere and... Read morePublished 18 months ago by V. G. Harwood