Elsie Whitmore, a teacher from the small town of Oak Hills, Pennsylvania, is shocked when one of her YouTube videos goes viral, drawing the attention of the famous actor Graham Thurston. When Thurston seeks to cast her in a film that he is directing, Elsie is conflicted: Should she give up teaching, a career she finds deeply fulfilling, for her childhood dream of becoming an actress? Join Elsie Whitmore as she travels down the bumpy road of being cast in a film production and falling in love with a movie star while being homesick for her family, friends, and students back home in Oak Hills. Will Elsie return to teaching and her close-knit community, or will she pursue her love for Graham Thurston and acting for Proscenium Studios in the Brooklyn Navy Yard?
My thoughts: This was such a delightful story about a young woman caught between some hard choices when it comes to pursuing dreams and holding to her values. I enjoyed this story and appreciated the message of it! The book is a fun one to pick up, and hard to put down. I look forward to reading more by this author!
I received this book from Celebrate Lit. This is my honest review.
Click here to get your copy! This post contains affiliate links.
About the Author
Amy Walsh is a 5th-grade teacher who loves teaching children about what she loves to do herself: reading and writing. She enjoys outdoor activities, especially hiking and camping with her Scouts BSA Troop. Amy also appreciates opportunities to share her faith through singing, teaching and writing for her church family. Amy and her husband, Patrick, have three children: Bree, Spencer, Liz, and a son-in-law, Kyle. Amy and her family love to spend time together celebrating special occasions, listening to great music, swimming and kayaking, and having occasional ping pong tournaments.
More from Amy
The Creation of Elsie
Elsie Whitmore came into being on Election Day 2020. I needed a little escape from the reality of being an urban public school teacher in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and all the political turmoil in the United States. I decided it was time to take on a big writing project.
Wanting to create a “happy escape” for both myself and readers, I put the best of two worlds that I love into the settings of the novel: farm life in northeastern Pennsylvania and drama in New York City. I created a character who had already overcome childhood anxiety, and in the process of conquering her painful shyness, she had grown strong, wise, and firmly grounded in what she considers important. Elsie had also long ago given up her dream of becoming an actress in order to pursue the more “realistic” career of teaching, which she finds quite fulfilling. But sometimes life has some unexpected twists and turns….
Mrs. Whitmore’s Upsidedown Apple Sticky Toffee Cupcakes Recipe
Graham is so determined that Elsie will give him and his film production a chance that he pulls out all the stops with a lovely dinner after her day of screen tests at Proscenium Studios in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. He even goes so far as to google the most delicious dessert in the world so that his housekeeper can create the perfect end to the meal: English Sticky Toffee Pudding.
Eventually Elsie’s mother puts her own Pennsylvanian spin on this delicious dessert in an Oak Hills sequel. She substitutes apples for dates, adds some molasses and ginger, and makes them into smaller portions perfect for a church concession stand at the county fair.
Here is her recipe:
- Dice apples and place them in the bottom of a greased muffin pan. (You may prefer to slice the apples for a fancier look, but that will increase baking time.)
- Heat ¼ cup of salted butter, ¾ cup of brown sugar, ½ tsp of ground cinnamon, and 1 tsp of vanilla extract. (Mrs. Whitmore just throws everything into a frying pan, quickly stirs once everything has melted, and then turns off the stove as soon as the mixture begins to bubble.)
- Cover the apples with the hot mixture. (Mrs. Whitmore uses a gravy ladle to scoop the toffee sauce into the muffin pan.)
- Melt 1 stick of salted butter in a mixing bowl.
- Add 1 and ½ cup of flour, 1 tsp baking powder, ¼ tsp baking soda, ¾ cup of light brown sugar, 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract, 2 eggs, 3 tbsp of molasses, ¼ tsp ground cinnamon, ½ tsp ground ginger.
- Mix the ingredients with a spoon like you would mix pancake batter — no need to beat. The consistency will be more like biscuit or cookie dough than cake batter.
- Put a scoop of the dough on top of apples and toffee in the muffin pans.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 15 – 25 minutes. (The top of the cake should look dry.) If you are using regular cupcake pans, you can make 12 and they should be done in 15. If you are using larger muffin pans, you can make 8 and they need to bake for about 20 minutes. If you are baking multiple items in the oven, it will take closer to 25 minutes.
Sometimes the toffee comes up the sides of the cake, so it is best to put a larger tray on the rack underneath or line the bottom of the oven with foil. (Elsie forgot to do this the first time she followed her mother’s recipe. Graham, being a bit over-protective, made her evacuate due to the smoke coming from the oven.)
- Immediately after taking out of the oven, turn the muffin pan upside down on a tray, waxed paper, or cookie sheet. Tap the top of the pan and then lift up. Mrs. Whitmore uses a small spatula to collect any apple and toffee still in the pan and puts it on the cakes.
- Serve while still warm, with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Sometimes, Mrs. Whitmore makes a smaller batch and then puts the rest of the dough in a bread pan to bake. She warms this up the following night and serves with warm lemon pudding and whipped cream — which is very much a northeastern Pennsylvania county fair treat.
Locks, Hooks and Books, January 22
Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, January 23
Texas Book-aholic, January 24
Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, January 25
Jodie Wolfe – Stories Where Hope and Quirky Meet, January 26 (Author Interview)
deb’s Book Review, January 26
Inklings and notions, January 27
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 28
For Him and My Family, January 30
A Modern Day Fairy Tale, January 31 (Spotlight)
Pause for Tales, January 31
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, February 1
Wishful Endings, February 2 (Author Interview)
Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, February 3
Stories By Gina , February 4 (Author Interview)
To celebrate her tour, Amy is giving away the grand prize package of $50 Amazon gift card along with the eBooks of three novels, A Cursed Enchantment, A Misplaced Beauty, and Elsie Whitmore: A Star from Oak Hills!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.