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Pamela Moore’s first book was published in 1956 when she was 18 years old, and it became an international bestseller in its day.

Chocolates for Breakfast is the coming-of-age story of a girl named Courtney, shunted between boarding school and divorced parents in New York and Hollywood. At first a model student, she gradually falls in with a privileged and jaded set, who drink heavily and pride themselves on their cynicism and sophistication.

After a crush on one of her boarding-school teachers leads to heartbreak, Courtney beds a bisexual Hollywood actor, and then a dissolute European aristocrat living out of a luxury hotel in Manhattan. Chocolates for Breakfast includes frank discussion of sexuality and gender roles that was, for that era, uncommon. Her first lover abandons her to return to his male companion, and Courtney uses a razor blade to cut the inside joints of her fingers — one of the earliest depictions of adolescent self-cutting in young adult literature. The next scene is of Courtney being discharged from a psychiatric hospital. Her two-month stay there is not described.

The setting of the novel travels from Rosemary Hall (now part of Choate) in New England, to the Garden of Allah in Hollywood, to establishment landmarks of mid-century Manhattan such as P. J. Clarke’s, the Plaza hotel, and the Stork Club. The novel is considered to be autobiographical, largely based on Moore’s life from ages 15 to 16 (circa 1953 to 54.) The character of Anthony Neville may have been partly modeled on the British aesthete and adventurer Michael “Dandy Kim” Caborn-Waterfield, who lived out of the Plaza Hotel while reportedly running arms for the Batista revolution in Cuba.

Sondra in the novel is closely based on the author’s mother, Isabel Moore, an editor at Photoplay magazine who counted Joan Crawford and Marilyn Monroe among her acquaintances, and authored many books under her own and various pen names, including The Day the Communists Took Over America (Isabel Moore, 1961) ; The Sex Cure — Doctors who mix Medicine and Women (as Elaine Dorian, 1962) ; The Girl From Aquarius (as Dani Lawrence, 1970); and many others.

Courtney’s father Robbie is based on Don W. Moore, who edited stories for the pulp fiction magazine Argosy, wrote for the comic strip Flash Gordon, and later worked as a scriptwriter and producer on several television series, including Rawhide.

. . . Read an excerpt of Chocolates for Breakfast

. . . Download Book Club Discussion Guide

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

3 dniowa promocja biedronka December 16, 2013 at 3:09 pm

nowa biedronka otwarcie promocje

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Kevin K August 29, 2013 at 4:19 am

@Don: Check the essay “The Three Texts of Chocolates,” in the back of the Harper Perennial reissue, to get a sense of the differences between the French and US version of the novel.

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Caveat Emptor September 12, 2011 at 4:59 am

beware the websites that offer chocolates for breakfast for $6. They are purveyors of the French and Italian versions. And shipping will run you extra.

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libertyanne August 15, 2011 at 12:37 pm

I really enjoyed this book many times and would love to have another copy but almost $60 on Amazon has me baffled and disapointed.

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Don Deaton January 31, 2011 at 4:29 am

When I was in my early twenties, probably not too long after Chocolates for Breakfast was published, a young lady I dated gave me a copy and insisted I read it. I don’t remember being at all shocked. But I did have many pleasant fantasies about getting together with the author, as well as imagining hot torrid afternoons with Francoise Sagan. Alas they’re both gone. Looks like it’ll never happen. I also had fantasies about the Rockettes (sp?) and they’re still around. Who knows?

What’s the chance of getting a copy of the French version that’s been translated into English? Never got past my first year French.

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jerry December 30, 2010 at 9:28 pm

I remember this book well. Here’s a story on a story: When a teenage boy finds “Chocolates for Breakfast” on his parents’ bookshelf some time in the early ’70s…

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kevin December 20, 2010 at 8:06 pm

@Dan:
I don’t know of any plans to bring the book back into print, although the degree of interest on this site and on Facebook has been very encouraging.

[Update: the book will be reissued by Harper Perennial in July 2013]

You’re right that the French edition, like the Italian which was based on it, contains material that didn’t appear in the US, consisting mostly of critiques of American society and culture, delivered first by Miss Rosen to Courtney, and then by Courtney to everyone else. The French “nouvelle edition,” as it was called, does NOT include the passages that were cut from the original manuscript submitted to the US publisher. Unlike the material added into the “nouvelle edition,” the pages cut from the manuscript consisted mostly of dialogue about taboo topics and sensual descriptions of Courtney’s feelings for Miss Rosen and others.

@Marina:
All content on this website is indeed copyright by the original artists or authors of the work. For a purely educational project, for example, limited use of the materials would be covered under “Fair Use,” at least in the U.S. Feel free to email me at [kevin] at [this website] regarding your project, and any specific writing or photographs you might want to use, and I’ll try to get you whatever information I can to help you track down the holders of those copyrights.

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marina regno December 20, 2010 at 10:54 am

Dear Sirs,

I must to make an essay about Pamela Moore. I ask you if it’s possible to use for this essay the photo gallery or there’s a copyright on your site?

Many thanks,
Marina

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Dan Visel December 20, 2010 at 4:52 am

Very glad to see this website! I hope there are plans afoot to bring the books back into print?

And by chance: can I ask what the differences are between the French and the English versions of Chocolates for Breakfast? I know there are passages in the French that aren’t in the English – what are they?

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Laurie Palmer December 12, 2010 at 7:25 pm

Robert Lund sent me your way and a worthwhile journey it’s been reading about Pamela Moore. You’ve managed to present her life and work extraordinarily well, indeed. This fascinating figure, this young woman whose audacity should be publicized, this rebel of the 50’s meatloaf era. Another book I’m hungry to read. Well, thanks! I’m hip.

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Kevin December 3, 2010 at 7:56 pm

Hi Joyce,

Thanks for sharing your recollections. I’ve been meaning to put up excerpts, but meanwhile there are some great plot summaries and passages quoted here:
http://chocolatesforbreakfast.info/pamela-moore-plus-forty/pamela-moore-plus-forty-4/

I’d be curious to learn where/when did you first come across the book?

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JOYCE November 28, 2010 at 10:56 pm

When I was in high school (1960) a copy of Chocolates for Breakfast was passed around with certain page marked as “must reads.” I recall reading a few pages to someone on the phone…. don’t recall why. 50 years later I can still remember the name of that book, but not any of the content.

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Kevin November 18, 2010 at 4:21 pm

@ Lisa:
I don’t know if the book is “rare” per se — except for the first edition, worth $800 to $1000– but I have noticed prices climbing over time. Still, if you check Alibris, Amazon and Abes books, you should be able to find a US or UK edition for less than $30.

@ Jennifer:
I guess the 50s were both of those things and more besides. I went through the archives lately and found rejection letters sent to Pamela’s agent at the time (Monica McCall) for a proposed serialization in magazines like Redbook, Ladies Home Journal. “Not right for our magazine or any other,” reads one response. “Heroine finds stability but has not been sufficiently punished for her wayward life of sin,” things like that. The depiction of attraction between women and between a woman and a bisexual man was especially troubling to these folks.

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Jennifer Tea November 16, 2010 at 9:24 pm

The fifties weren’t all some sitcom family in the suburbs.. I’m blown away by how this world was both similar and completely different from the one we live in, especially regarding women’s roles…

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Lisa C November 9, 2010 at 3:56 am

I found this site while looking for a copy of the book to buy. Even the paperbacks are over 30 dollars! Is this a Rare book?

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