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The Expensive Halo: A Fable Without Moral

3.41  ·  Rating details ·  133 ratings  ·  13 reviews
In this comedy of social contrasts, set in London during the heady 20s, rich, bored Ursula Deane falls for a penniless violinist whose sister becomes the object of the attentions of Ursula's brother, Lord Chitterne. Josephine Tey, who died in 1952, is best known for her crime novels.
Hardcover, Large Print
Published December 1st 1985 by MacMillan Publishing Company (first published 1931)
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 ·  133 ratings  ·  13 reviews

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Mar 28, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 1984, general-fiction
[These notes were made in 1984:]. First published 1931 under pseudonym of Gordon Daviot. It was misleading of Sphere to republish this early novel under the name (Josephine Tey) that Elizabeth MacKintosh reserved for her mystery novels, for this is not, of course, one of her mysteries at all, nor is it anywhere near as fine a book. It has its moments of pleasure, of course, and it is handily shaped, but the theme - class tensions in the roaring twenties - is hardly fascinating, and the ...more
Sep 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First off, this is not one of Tey's mystery stories. It is a different animal altogether. I did a longer review for it on my book blog:

Lisa Brantly
Aug 21, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Interesting read. The last 3 pages pulled it up to 3.5 stars. Definitely inferior to later (mystery) works.
Aug 09, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor
Although this book was as well-written as all of Tey's books are, the plot just didn't involve me the way her Inspector Grant mysteries do.
Jun 17, 2013 rated it liked it
Not an "important" book or even one with much punch but a very light read made fun by Tey's always excellent writing. I wouldn't exactly recommend this book to anyone but lovers of Josephine Tey.
Glen U
Oct 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
A poor man's Jane Austen with a touch of F. Scott Fitzgerald thrown in. "The Expensive Halo" is Josephine's Tey attempt to write a romantic comedy about the lauded gentry and the proletariat meeting and loving in 1930ish London. Written under the pseudonym of Gordon Daviot, it is Teys contribution to the contemporary style of the time. By far, her detective novels are the much better product but some of the stories written under the Daviot tagline are credible in their own right. An interesting ...more
Jul 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a treasure. No, it's not one of our lady's mystery novels. It's a comedy of manners. The language and character development were exact - I "believed" every characters - every word that they spoke - every situation. I don't want to give the story away. Lady Ursula does the right thing - she earns her halo - at a horrible cost. I felt so bad for her. I was pleading her case while the scenes played out - "NO! Don't cave in. She only knows you by the things she's read in the society ...more
Angela Tuson
Apr 17, 2019 rated it liked it
I really enjoyed reading this because a) I like books set in the 1920's, b) I like Josephine Tey's writing, and c) it was large print. But I didn't like a) the remonstration to moral responsibility over another human adult's life. It felt ... outdated. and b) the cover was awful.
On the whole, an enjoyable read. Liked the 2 main characters (Sara and Ursula) enormously.
Trudy Pomerantz
Sep 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed this book - and realized before I started that this was not one of Tey's detective novels. I guess if you came to this expecting one of Tey's detective novels, you might be disappointed. If you come, however, for an interesting take on the question of true love that I think is well-written, then I think that you will enjoy it.
Aug 27, 2011 rated it it was ok
Not my favorite Tey, primarily because I had the sense the entire time that I was reading it that it felt more like a play than a novel. Every element felt more like a sketch of a character or situation that could be brought wonderully to life on stage by talented comedic actors. It's a classic tale of love and class struggle and unhappy families. There are some great details and bits, but it lacks something in comparison to Tey's other works. Still, not unpleasant, and interesting to read ...more
Morgan Gallagher
Jul 01, 2013 rated it liked it
This isn't a mystery book at all, which is quite confusing as you read it. It's a light, frothy, bitter sweet romance. There is no substance to it at all, but as an easy light read it has fine characters, good dialogue and some sparkling description. As all her books seem to have, a fine detailing of the social strata of the times. Would be a light read for a long car journey or a train ride.
May 06, 2014 rated it it was ok
I prefer Josephine Tey's mystery novels. As others have remarked the outcome of this tale of social conditions and behaviours is less engaging than it might have been. It would however, probably translate well to the stage as a period drama.
Dec 09, 2015 rated it it was ok
I enjoyed the Inspector Grant series so much. This one seemed just another English social drama. Tey writes well--just not much here that I could care about.
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Mar 20, 2016
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Feb 26, 2018
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Sep 21, 2017
Pam D
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Jul 30, 2014
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Gordon Daviot is a pseudonym of Elizabeth Mackintosh, better known by the pseudonym Josephine Tey.

Works originally published under the pseudonym Gordon Daviot still use that name as primary work, even though republished as Josephine Tey or Elizabeth Mackintosh.
“Had their physical attractions proved insufficient because she had unconsciously asked more from them than they were able to give?” 0 likes
“There is a limit to one's capacity for rows, you know. There comes a time when you're only too ready to sacrifice something for a quiet life.” 0 likes
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