The Daylight Gate – Jeanette Winterson


I can’t really write an honest review when it’s Jeanette Winterson, because I LOVE her. She’s one of my favourite writers ever. I’ve been reading her ever since I got “Oranges are not the Only Fruit” out of the library when I was about 14, and I’ve read every book she’s written since. Some are better than others, but I love her consistently poetic prose, so many lovely sentences that I want to read out loud and savour.

The Daylight Gate is about the Pendle Witches, and the real-life trial and execution, which I know very little about despite coming from Lancashire. I’ve never even been up Pendle Hill which is clearly not good enough. I read the book around Hallowe’en which seemed perfect, and it was just what I expected – atmospheric, beautifully written, bringing out the injustice of women who wanted to live differently being persecuted. I think this was my favourite sentence:

“Something about the way she looked at him made him feel less important than he knew himself to be”

How can you read that and not just go “Yes!”.

My only problem with the book was that it was a novella, and therefore didn’t go on for long enough. I read that it was commissioned by Hammer, as in Hammer Horror, and I’ve also read “The Greatcoat” by Helen Dunmore which was also Hammer – if their books are going to be this good, then I can’t wait to read more as that was wonderfully atmospheric and ghostly too. And nowhere near as cheesy as the old (but fantastic) films were.

In my opinion, you can’t go wrong with Jeanette Winterson. This didn’t grab me emotionally as much as “Why be Happy When you Could be Normal?” did, but as that was a much more personal book, I didn’t expect it to. If you like slightly creepy, atmospheric, Hallowe’eny stuff, then definitely give it a read.

And I’ll try and make the effort to go up Pendle Hill some time soon.

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