The Daylight Gate

The Daylight Gate

4.2 18
by Jeanette Winterson
     
 

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Set in seventeenth-century England during the reign of James I—the monarch who wrote his own book on witchcraft—The Daylight Gate is best-selling writer Jeanette Winterson’s re-creation of a dark history full of complicated morality, sex, and tragic plays for power.

This is a world where to be Catholic is a treasonable offense. A world

Overview


Set in seventeenth-century England during the reign of James I—the monarch who wrote his own book on witchcraft—The Daylight Gate is best-selling writer Jeanette Winterson’s re-creation of a dark history full of complicated morality, sex, and tragic plays for power.

This is a world where to be Catholic is a treasonable offense. A world where England's king vows to rid his country of “witchery popery popery witchery” and condemns the High Mass and Black Mass as heresies punishable by torture, hanging, and burning.

Winterson's literary suspense tale takes us deep into a brutal period of English history, centered on the notorious 1612 Pendle witch trials—an infection of paranoia that crossed the ocean with the Pilgrims and set the scene for the Salem witch hunt.

Good Friday, 1612. Pendle Forest. A gathering of thirteen is interrupted by local magistrate Roger Nowell. Is this a coven or a helpless group of women trying to save their family from the stake? Already two stand accused of witchcraft. The wealthy, respected Alice Nutter tries to defend them, haunted by her own past entanglement with magick. She doesn’t believe in the Devil, but as she fights for justice, her life is endangered by forces visible and invisible.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
To open The Daylight Gate is to be thrust into an England most Americans will have trouble believing ever existed. It’s a wild, superstitious place where the king (James I, Protestant son of the very Catholic Mary, Queen of Scots) has minions who prosecute (and, arguably, persecute) people suspected of witchcraft or Catholicism. Winterson starts with the historical record—the 1612 Lancashire Witch Trial really happened—and adds poetry, possibility, Shakespeare, Elizabethan Magus John Dee, a sexy priest on the run, a lifelong love between two women, and best of all, her version of real-life accused witch Alice Nutter. Using the fact that Nutter was from a different class than the group she was tried and executed with, Winterson creates a character straight out of fantasy. Alice is vividly beautiful, suspiciously young-looking, and while not a witch herself, acquainted with what witches call the “Left-Hand Path,” having worked with Dee on his alchemy and seen her female lover sell her soul to the devil, here called “the Dark Gentleman.” Disliked for her power and fearlessness—she rides astride and harbors suspected witches on her land—when the hunts for Catholics and witches converge, so too do her past and present. The book is short, violent (both torture and magic are depicted with full goriness), and absorbing. The language is simple and sometimes lovely, and to say that the book could have gone the extra mile and been a graphic novel is not to damn it, but to recognize the pleasure in its intensely visual qualities. Agent: Heather Schroder, ICM. (Oct.)
Library Journal
This short novel brings to life 17th-century England during the reign of James I at the Pendle witch trials in 1612. The presence of witchcraft is clear, and Satan appears briefly, yet the accusations against 13 women are highly politicized, much like the Salem witch trials of 1692 in America. The protagonist is Alice Nutter (a real-life victim who was recently honored with a statue in the Lancashire village of Roughlee, her home before she was taken to Lancaster Castle to be tried), who speaks up for the condemned and finds herself facing charges. As we learn more about Alice's history, we see how a great past love she experienced has and will cost her dearly. The story of Alice's affair with another woman is erotic and gripping, and the story's supernatural elements are intriguing. Alice is a complex character with a big heart, a woman who embraces her sexuality and stands up against the powerful. This is a suspenseful, disturbing novel about passion, injustice, sacrifice, and bravery in the face of hideous torture and execution. VERDICT Recommended for fans of Winterson, an eclectic British writer whose first novel Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit won the Whitbread Prize for Best First Novel. Those with a fascination for this dark era in history will be eager to read. [See Prepub Alert, 4/15/13.]—Evelyn Beck, Piedmont Technical Coll., Greenwood, SC
Kirkus Reviews
Witchcraft in 17th-century England: from the prolific British author (The Stone Gods, 2008, etc.), a nightmarish novella that burns like a hot coal. It was a notorious trial. The Lancashire Witches were tried and executed in 1612. England was jittery. The Protestant king, James I, was intent on hunting down witches and Catholics. The Gunpowder Plot had been a close call; all the Catholic plotters had fled north to Lancashire. Winterson uses the historical framework, grafting her inventions onto it. Entering the past with her is like walking through an open door. You are there. It is a world of rape and pillage. The most conspicuous witches are the Demdikes, a fearsome family of wretched indigents. The gentlewoman Alice Nutter, wealthy from inventing a dye, lets them live in a grim tower on her land. It is Good Friday. The Demdikes are planning a Black Mass. It is Alice's misfortune to be at the tower when the magistrate arrives. All of them, save Alice, are placed under guard. Alice does not believe in witchcraft, but she does believe in magic, which flickers throughout the narrative. Thirty years before, in London, she had known the alchemist John Dee and the beautiful Elizabeth Southern, one of her two great loves. Then Elizabeth sold her soul to the Dark Gentleman, but Alice stayed young, thanks to Dee's Elixir of Life. Now she is in danger, for her other great love, the Catholic plotter Southworth, has materialized at her house. The magistrate offers a deal: Give up Southworth and go free, or be tried as a witch with the others. Alice refuses, sealing her fate. As the tension mounts, Winterson weaves into her story a voodoo doll stuck with pins and an eerie meeting on haunted Pendle Hill between Alice and the dead John Dee. There will be torture and false testimony. An electrifying entertainment.
From the Publisher
"She is a master of her material, a writer in whom a great talent abides." --Muriel Spark, Vanity Fair

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802121639
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
10/01/2013
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
408,145
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.40(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Born in Manchester, England, Jeanette Winterson is the author of seventeen books, including the national bestseller Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, and The Passion. She has won many prizes including the Whitbread Award for Best First Novel, the John Llewllyn Rhys Prize, the E. M. Forster Award, and the Stonewall Award.

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The Daylight Gate 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The writing is beautiful in its simplicity. The grime and filth of the time, both in atmosphere and action, are made real to the reader. Love seems the only lightness to emerge from this age. Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For DayClan. Be realistic. No small turkeys or three rabbits. Just a vole or two mice.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Don't waist your time or $$$.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Shakily ds in crying. Papa! Momma! Were are you? She pants. She collapse on a patch of grass and cries. Lost cold and scred.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Starlight its me darkclaw i have been reincarnated from starclan and now i look like this! Please remember me!" He says sitting down next to starlight crying
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hi starlight!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Starlight smiled, "Hello..." she meowed to the kit... (If you want me to...I will adopt you Foxkit...)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sits down
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
~&Delta &star &starf