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A Palette of Magpies In A Nutshell

A world of unfolding romance and unexpected friendships. A story about embracing life’s ebbs and flows.

Judith, after a long career as an art teacher, moves back into her childhood home in the Cotswolds.


Out of the blue hand-painted postcards land on her doormat, each one portraying a line from the well-remembered magpie nursery rhyme.


Nudged by their arrival Judith interprets them as a sign to seek out those in the village who most need her help and to face her past. Enticed out of the doldrums of retirement, her compassion is ignited, and she discovers, passion and purpose in her role as an unlikely confidant to many.


With her closest friend, Louise, encouraging her to pick up her art, and her life again, Judith embarks on her journey of rediscovery, unlikely connections, and renewed hope. And, with a bubbling excitement, she realises this is the start of something new.


But who is sending the cards and when will they reveal themselves, if at all, and when romance is rekindled, with a long-forgotten school friend, will Judith too, at last, find happiness. After all that’s what we all want in life, isn’t it?


A beautifully sensitive story heralding change, acceptance, and forgiveness on the journey to finding happiness. 

Excerpts From The Book

Another handmade postcard. She ran her fingers lightly over the waxed paper taking in the tiny bumps and ridges, breathing in the soft vanilla, experiencing the weight of it. She turned it over, hesitating for a split second. But she had already guessed what it was going to say. She’d already worked it out.
She peered through the porch windows, the white light of morning dazzling her, bouncing off the leaded lozenges of glass. Was someone watching her? Judith sat at her kitchen table and read, “Two for Joy”.

Along the bottom of the card, holding it landscape, two magpies faced each other, their feathers ruffled as they played in a watery blue puddle, tiny water droplets falling off their shaking wings, petrol bright, as they shook them: the crystal beads sparkling in the light of the yellow sun overhead. The delicate paint strokes were precise yet created movement, a fluidity on the page; the birds so life-like, moved in front of her. The watercolours had created joyful birds; alive and vibrant. Black, purple, turquoise and a smidgen of leaf green added gloss to the rough pleating of their tail feathers.

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My inspiration for “A Palette of Magpies”

My inspiration for this book came from working alongside a wonderful art teacher in the secondary school where I taught Business Studies, English Language extra lessons and headed up the school’s PSHE curriculum. She was a few years away from retirement and she gave everything she had to her students, her lessons and the school.

We would often sit together at lunch time amongst her paint pots and student art displays nattering on about school policies, what we would do when we moved on (it was a tough school and demanded a lot from us not only during school hours but beyond the end of the school day). She always made tea and had tea cakes or currant buns and she always bought biscuit-based marshmallow tea cakes covered in chocolate. She was kind and so funny too.

So, though I didn’t know much about art or cared much for drawing, we laughed together and through her I came to love the messiness of all the paints and the stained washing up area and the jars of paint brushes.

She was a wonderful woman and though we have since lost touch I know where she lives and know that one day I will pop in to see her… maybe with a signed copy of A Palette of Magpies.

Beta Reader Thoughts

‘This a women’s fiction novel which fuses contemporary fiction and romance fiction creating a story which unfolds as life unfolds yet with a magical sweetness about it. That’s not to say it is a shallow novel, far from it, as Christodoulou dives into miscarriage, bullying, displacement, forgiveness, dementia, friendship, love and life in a “not-so-sleepy” Cotswold village which Judith, her main character, returns to after years of being away. Close to retirement, Judith retires early, faces going back to the village she left in a cloak of shame as a teenager. There she must find both the courage and the compassion to live life authentically without falling into the “doldrums of retirement”. Louise, her best friend, a number of mysterious postcards and past secrets create a story which is passionate, sensitive, deeply moving and tied up in a happy ending. You will love A Palette of Magpies. Christodoulou’s storytelling goes from strength to strength and you will not be disappointed with this story.’

Beta Reader/Advance Reader Copy feedback

Reviews for A Palette of Magpies

Quote: ‘Made-up stories are the ones which tell our truth, the truth we wish we could say out loud.’ From Pallett of Magpies copyright Soulla Christodoulou

This book ticked all the boxes for me. It triggered every emotion from laughter to uncontrollably crying at times. Set in a small village in the Cotswolds, which, on the surface all is calm and peaceful…

In parts it is heart—wrenching, while others have humour, and warmth, but, we can also feel an element of ‘fate’ taking a hand once more. The issues raised here will relate to everyone, there is trauma, heartbreak, and a lot of soul-searching, but these are so compassionately covered by Soulla, your heart goes out to all concerned.

A Palette of Magpies lends a whole new meaning to the Magpie rhyme, evoking memories of home, places, years that past, suffering and people who only want to right a wrong. A beautifully written book, and for me, her best to date – amazing! I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Daisy Wood,

What a heart warming story! Soulla has once again stolen my heart with this book. We get a bit of a mix of unexpected friendships, romance, moving back home, art, passion, mental health; and more. I always fall in love with Soulla’s settings. They are beautiful, charming, and just a joy to read about. It made me miss the warm weather. I read this in October, and the more I think about it the more I feel this book is perfect for the November season., the season of giving thanks for who and what you have; and felt that the characters learned how to accept people into their life…

If you are looking for a book that will warm your heart, make you smile, that’s emotional and hard hitting then this bitter sweet story will take you on a journey that’s worth the read. 

Double The Books Magazine, No. 57