In the years after Chocolates for Breakfast went out of print, it would surface occasionally on lists of cult classics, chick lit, and — on account of the some of the scenes set at a girls’ boarding school — 50’s-era lesbian fiction.

The book was listed in The Catalog Of Cool, by Gene Sculatti, 1982, which led to Robert Nedelkoff’s in-depth article  Pamela Moore Plus Forty in The Baffler, 1997.  Here are some earlier citations and critical discussions.

“Feminine Equivalents of Greek Love in Modern Fiction” by Marion Zimmer Bradley, 1965 Best known as the author of The Mists of Avalon, the Darkover series, and other works of science fiction and fantasy, Marion Zimmer Bradley also wrote critical studies with a feminist focus. This article appeared in the inaugural issue of the International Journal of Greek Love Vol. I No.1 (n.d. [1965), pp.48-58

Less melodramatic [than Faviell’s Thalia] but perhaps more realistic and telling, is a brief portrait in a novel written by a girl herself barely out of her teens: Pamela Moore’s Chocolates For Breakfast.  Courtney, child of a neurotic and narcissistic movie-star mother, is sent away to boarding school, and for a short time is taken up by a friendly, kindly teacher; but just as Courtney is coming out of her shell, the teacher realizes the nature of this attachment and rebuffs her, and Courtney withdraws again into loneliness. It is hinted at that this rejection of her overwhelming need for love touches off the sexual promiscuity and dissipation which characterize Courtney’s later adolescent years.

“Teen-Ager As Novelist” by Abigail Ann Hamblen, The Midwest Quarterly, Summer 1966

Chocolates For Breakfast is more serious than might be supposed. The very preciousness of it is disturbingly serious… for in spite of the writer’s “sophistication,” she has written a very romantic novel… Chocolates For Breakfast is, however, more than a simple unburdening of pent-up emotions. Because it is written by an adolescent about adolescents, it has significance for the serious reader. For it is a modern teen-ager’s view of life, and as such, merits some study.  In the very simple plot we discern a feminine version of The Catcher In The Rye.

“Barnard: Students, 1950s” by Joseph Gerard Brennan Pamela Moore is remembered in this excerpt from a 1977 book by her college philosophy teacher.

The first time she appeared I was sitting alone in the deserted seminar room listening to… Josquin Des Prez’ Misericordias Domini.. An authoritative voice at the door broke the silence that followed the last cadence: “Only once before in my life have I heard music of such purity.” I turned to see a smallish dark-haired student with a blue cigarette pack in her hand. “When was that?” “When I first heard the chorus of the Red Army!”  She came nearer, stared at me a moment, then said, “Do you know that you have a very Irish head?”

The Catalog Of Cool compiled by Gene Sculatti, Warner Books, 1982. The description of Chocolates was contributed by filmmaker Richard Blackburn

[Moore] penned the ultimate teen sophisticate fantasy in ’56. Her fifteen-year-old heroine first balls a fag actor in H’wood, then makes it with some hermetic, filthy rich, hotel-bound Italian count in NY, where she’s gone to swing at the Stork Club. At home, mom serves martinis at 11, breakfast at noon.

Contingent Loves: Simone de beauvoir and Sexuality, edited by Melanie C. Hawthorne, University Press of Virginia, 2000. In her essay Leçon de Philo, Hawthorne discusses the French genre of  boarding school lesbian literature and in a footnote lists Chocolates among its American counterparts.

The tradition of schoolgirl literature from Colette to Galzy is thus evolked as an echo to the emerging desires of a young heroine grappling with the meaning of schoolgirl crushes… I don’t mean to suggest such continueous tradition is unique to French literature…  I could have cited numerous others.

Cioran et compagnie by Roland Jaccard, Presses Universitaires de France, 2005 From the opening page of Jaccard’s book about his friendship with Emil Cioran; Jaccard recollects his musings, dated 13 July 1978, on the topic of famous young suicides:

I was thinking of Pamela Moore.  I was probably the only one still thinking about her.  French critics had called her “the American Francoise Sagan.” She had known an ephemeral fame and then shot herself with a shotgun [sic], like Hemingway about whom she had been writing. Francoise Sagan, for her part, decided to stick around.  Which is rarely the wiser choice.

I was thinking also of Otto Weininger, the young Jewish philosopher who had shot himself through the heart in Beethoven’s house in Vienna. He was 23 years old. Six months earlier, he had thrown into the face of the world his book, Sex and Character,  whose creeping misanthropy had perturbed various literary circles. From Karl Kraus to Wittgenstien and Canetti, his genius was celebrated. Hitler himself said that this was the only Jew to whom he would grant the right to live. It’s true that Sex and Character denied to women and Jews that parcel of humanity to which each had the weakness to cling. Surely, Weininger was delerious, but philosophy has never been anything but a meticulous delirium, sugar-coated with ethics. At least Weininger had spared us those. . . .

I was thinking that he would have appreciated the young novelist. Each had plunged into nothingness, rather than  wallow in mediocrity.

4 Responses

  1. Madoka Yamasaki

    I once deal with this novel in “Book in Pink-Used book Guide for Young Girls” with other Sagan-esque teenage author’s books: “A Man for the Asking” by Catherine Breillat (now she is film director) and Coeur En Poche by Christine Aventin. They are like charming teenage actress without real acting ability. But skillful, mature writers can’t write like them. There is raw feeling, real pain, sweet sorrow. This story could be great movie.


  2. Christian Nordstrom

    Hey there superb website! I’ve been a fan of these boks for many years.

  3. Estelle

    Can anyone tell me where to find a copy of this book online? I checked on amazon, it’s over $100 for the paperback.

  4. Robert Lund

    I loved the book. It was so clearly written from the perspective of a young girl, so candid, and I can see how it would have been considered extraordinarily frank back in the 50s.

    Going off to Europe with someone like Edouard De Laurot was just the kind of thing Courtney might have done, and throughout the book I had in mind some composite character made up of Courtney, Pamela, and my ex-wife Zoë, who went off to Europe with Edouard at age eighteen, 25 years later…

    Wonderful writing, so sad that Pamela couldn’t get the other book published upon her return. And when I read young Pamela’s remark recalled by her philosophy professor, “When I first heard the chorus of the Red Army!” it reminded me of Zoë at that age, and how Pamela came to associate with Edouard.