Today, I thought I would take a look at several covers of one of Minette Walters' mysteries, The Scold's Bridle, but first I have to tell you an anecdote that I find a bit funny now.
I remember seeing this book in a bookshop when it was first released. With the word "bridle" in the title, I thought it might be a mystery that had something to do with horses. When I read the synopsis, I could see that it didn't have a thing to do with my second favorite four-legged critter and put it back on the shelf. But that title stuck in my mind, and I looked up the definition of "scold's bridle" when I got home. (This was pre-computer, so I looked it up the old-fashioned way.)
A scold's bridle was an instrument of punishment, as a form of torture and public humiliation. The device was an iron muzzle in an iron framework that enclosed the head. A bridle-bit (or curb-plate), about 2 inches long and 1 inch broad, projected into the mouth and pressed down on top of the tongue.
Naturally, this form of punishment was for women, because-- heaven knows-- men never gossip, grumble, or complain. When I discovered what the item was, it made me so mad that I never wanted to read Walters' book, even though it was an award winner. As you can see, I never overreact! *cough* Will I read it now? It's possible, but with the current state of my to-be-read shelves, it's unlikely. You want to know something else? The idea of a scold's bridle still makes steam pour out of my ears... but I digress. Let's take a look at some of the covers that were devised for this book with the interesting title.
|UK. Looks like a Halloween cover to me!|
|US. The bridle must be in the tub...|
|UK. Creepy! Looks like it's hanging on the wall of the dungeon.|
|UK. Audio Cassette cover.|
Now... as your eyes rambled down the row of book covers, did you notice anything in particular? (Besides the fact that none of them are particularly pretty.) I have a feeling that some of you saw the same thing I did: the covers for The Scold's Bridle editions published in the US and Australia have nary a bridle on 'em, while every single one of the UK covers does.
What does this mean? I would imagine it all boils down to ignorance. Although I think the Puritans made use of the things, most Americans aren't going to have a clue what a scold's bridle is, and from the looks of things, publishers didn't think the Australians would either. I'm not sure what this says about the British!
Which covers do you prefer-- with bridle, or without? Or neither one? Inquiring minds would love to know!