Chocolates for Breakfast by Pamela Moore
I had heard people throw around Chocolates for Breakfast by Pamela Moore as revolutionary, shocking and ahead of its time. Newspapers, lecturers and social commentators have been praising the book for years so I thought I would see what all the fuss was about.
Chocolates for Breakfast is essentially a coming of age tale. Fifteen year old Courtney is a disillusioned teen full of angst and sexual desires as she struggles with her transformation from a girl into a woman. She is a pupil at a boarding school in New York with her best friend Janet, but her mother suddenly removes her from the comfort of the school and whisks Courtney off to live with her in Hollywood.
As a struggling actress, Courtney’s mother, introduces her daughter to sin, temptations and a life of excess. Drinking and smoking first thing in the morning is not uncommon for the young Courtney as her mother attends audition after audition. Surrounded by her mother’s friends she feels the pressure even more to act as an adult and she sees the way to do this by having sexual encounters. She has an affair with Barry, an older, washed up, gay actor.
Courtney is then transported back to New York as her mother lands work in the city. Courtney makes the most of it and mixes with New York’s finest bright young things. A complete flirt, Courtney realises she is too intelligent and witty for the boys she meets until she meets her match. Anthony is a gorgeous lawyer who she has a physical relationship with in the hope that she will find happiness and security. However she dates other men including the sophisticated Charles.
Janet on the other hand is the classic ‘teen gone wild’. Promiscuous and staying out all night, her life is a car crash waiting to happen. And sadly that car crash happens at the end of the novel when her relationship with her parents comes to a head and she commits suicide. The act of losing her best friend causes Courtney to become a woman and to also realise what is best for her – a relationship with Charles.
Over the course of the book the reader can see Courtney become more adult through her dialogue and her actions. At the end Courtney can see that she wants love, not lust. She realises that happiness and safety does not come from sex.
The figure of her mother or perhaps lack of makes Courtney believe she can find her comfort and happiness in men. Again, at the end her mother matures and acts like a parental figure which helps Courtney to make grown-up decisions.
Chocolates for Breakfast is littered with wonderful one liners and philosophical comments. There’s pearls of wisdom on every page that you want to write down and keep and the numerous underlying meanings in the text is a lecturer’s dream. Pamela Moore was only eighteen when this novel was published in 1956 and she writes with wisdom beyond her years. Every woman will find something they can relate to in this novel.