Jeanette Winterson: The Daylight Gate

"Reading Orlando (...) is like sitting up all night by the fire with an old friend and a bottle of wine, where the talk is easy, wether of great things or small, and when as morning comes you feel better."

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It is weird how books or writers sometimes disappear out of my view for years and then pop up again, like tulips in spring. About 20 years ago I discovered Virginia Woolf in a bookshop in England and became an ardent admirer. I worked myself through The Lighthouse and Mrs Dalloway (in full admiration, but I have to admit not the easiest books), and I clearly remember a long holiday in England, trekking around all summer in (most of the time) beautiful weather and reading Orlando. I visited Knole and Sissinghurst of course and made the link, something I really like about a book, and Virginia and Vita never left my heart and mind since these days.

So it was pretty special to be remembered of them and these days by two books in a row !

King James I, the former James VI of Scotland, was afraid of two things: catholics and witches. He wrote a book about the second, Daemonology, and was obsessed by the idea that they existed and had a real influence.Jeanette's Winterson The Daylight Gate is about a witch trial in 1612 in Lancashire that was the first English Witch Trial to be documented.

This book brings his two greatest fears together when a Jesuit priest returns to his region to visit his former lover, now accused of witchcraft, but the greatest thing about the book is how superstition and fantasy is slowly replaced by magic, as if it was real and existed. It is well written, and I finished it in no time, on the ferry to Dover early in the morning.

And where is the Woolf link ? Well, the female figure, a rich landowner accused of witchcraft, reminds me strongly of Orlando. I did not really catch it at that moment, it was reading the second book of which I will talk next week that put the idea in my mind.

A wine that would go with this book should be female but powerful, strong en special, and I think a wine by Arianna Occhipinti would combine perfectly.

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