Book Reviews

Chocolates For Breakfast by Pamela Moore | Book Review

Chocolates For Breakfast by Pamela Moore | Book Review Chocolates For Breakfast by Pamela Moore
Genres: Fiction
Original Publication Date: Originally published in 1956
Source: I purchased this book
Find the Author: Website

A riveting coming-of-age story, Chocolates for Breakfast became an international sensation upon its initial publication in 1956. Courtney Farrell is a disaffected, sexually precocious fifteen-year-old. She splits her time between Manhattan, where her father works in publishing, and Los Angeles, where her mother is a still-beautiful Hollywood actress. After a boarding-school crush on a female teacher ends badly, Courtney sets out to learn everything fast.

Chocolates For Breakfast

It is the 1950s. Courtney Farrell is fifteen years old and a student at an exclusive boarding school.

Courtney’s mother is an aging actress in California who is having trouble finding work. Her father works in the publishing industry in New York.

Her parents divorced years ago, and neither of them were stellar parents.

Courtney is confused about her life. She has a crush on a female teacher.

She is an intelligent girl with advanced taste in literature. She likes to discuss books with Miss Rosen, her teacher.

She feels that Miss Rosen understands her in a way that no one else does:

Courtney was a girl who had a whole string of what she termed “adoptive fathers,” usually friends of her mother, to whom she told the worries and fears that a child can never relate to their own parents. Miss Rosen was the first woman whom she had trusted since she lost confidence in her mother at the age of six.

She is still a virgin but is very curious. Her roommate is Janet, who will have a much bigger role later in the book.

Courtney has to leave the school because her mother simply cannot afford private school tuition anymore. Her mother is not getting parts and is struggling financially. So Courtney leaves prep school to live in California with her mother. She is enrolled in a public school where she knows no one.

She finds that much older men in Hollywood are very much interested in her sexually. They seem to have no problem that she is so young. She can easily buy alcohol and have affairs, and no one seems to care.

Courtney wants to be loved. She also wants sex. She very willingly loses her virginity to a bisexual actor and has an affair with him:

She was aware, very aware, of what was happening to her, but she wanted it. She wanted it; she had planned it, planned it long before he had ever thought of it, and she had asked him silently before he asked her because she wanted it so much.

Courtney eventually embarks upon a superficial life of parties and men.


Courtney is very young and still deciding on her sexuality.

Is she gay? Is she bisexual? She seems to have a real crush on her teacher at the beginning (apparently the French version of the novel is far more explicit about that relationship), but all Courtney’s subsequent affairs are with men.

That adults (whether male or female) would be very willing to get sexually involved with an underage girl (especially a teacher) would be seen as very different nowadays!

I like this book. Courtney is a lot more naive than she thinks. However, she also goes after what she wants.

Chocolates For Breakfast Caused A Sensation in 1956

When Pamela Moore published Chocolates for Breakfast in 1956, she was only 18 years old and a brilliant student at Barnard College.

The book caused a sensation because she was so young and the book is open about the teenage protagonist’s sexuality.

It was even reviewed by Robert Clurman in The New York Times:

Ever since Mlle. Sagan’s first novel demonstrated that a precocious young girl’s views of life, love and the adult world had an irresistible appeal… the search has been on… for an “American Sagan”… [But this] is probably a misnomer for Miss Moore… In fact, some sections of her novel make Mlle Sagan look a trifle prudish. Which brings to mind the uncomfortable thought that not very long ago, it would have been regarded as shocking to find girls in their teens reading the kind of books they’re now writing.

Moore was not able to take full advantage of the success of the novel, since she was studying in Europe at the time.

The literary world tried very hard to compare her to Françoise Sagan, another teenage prodigy who had great success with Bonjour Tristesse.

But all of Moore’s subsequent novels were unsuccessful, while Sagan went on to a very successful literary career.

Chocolates for Breakfast was extremely popular in France, but it eventually fell out of print in the United States.

Moore died in 1964 at the age of 27.

The book acquired a mythic status. Copies sold for good prices. It was finally republished in 2013, in both paperback and Kindle versions.

Further Reading

Reclaiming Pamela Moore from the Sisterhood of Sad Literary Girls

The Sylvia Plath You’ve Never Heard Of

Remainder Table: Pamela Moore Plus Forty

Bleed The Girl Out

Françoise Sagan: ‘She did what she wanted’

Please read my reviews:

Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II by Robert Matzen

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

Diary of a Mad Housewife by Sue Kaufman

Cassandra at the Wedding by Dorothy Baker

I Never Promised You a Rose Garden by Joanne Greenberg

The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith.

You can check out my posts on New Jersey Memories:

The Haunted Deserted Village of Feltville and the Enchanted Forest 2023 | Berkeley Heights, New Jersey

First Presbyterian Church of Oxford at Hazen and the Spooky Graveyard 2023 | Belvidere, New Jersey

The Historic Cooper Gristmill | Chester Township, New Jersey

Frelinghuysen Arboretum, Spring 2023

The Secret Garden

Thank you for reading The Literary Lioness!

About Pamela Moore

Pamela Moore (September 22, 1937 – June 7, 1964) was an American novelist best known for her debut novel Chocolates for Breakfast. She published Chocolates for Breakfast, at age eighteen, which garnered her critical attention for its provocative themes involving its teenage protagonist.

I love books, writing, film, and television.

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