A Sisters' Almanac — July

Les Grandes Vacances… July gets the summer holiday going. It usually doesn’t take long to adapt to sunnier and more relaxed days and there is plenty of time for leisurely pursuits.

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1 — Actress Anouk Aimée sadly passed away last month and the French Institute in London is offering a retrospective from July 7th. It’s a chance to watch La Dolce Vita and A Man and a Woman on the silver screen again. A true Rive Gauche resident, Aimée gained critical acclaim for her captivating and elegant performances over a 70 year career but it is her effortless style we admire her for.

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2 — Floaty skirts such as the one worn by Anouk Aimée above are indispensable in summer wardrobes and they are even more useful when they can be paired with a shirt in a matching fabric. Don Aimé’s Anemone skirt with our Benson or Ava shirt and a dress pleasingly appears as a bonus outfit.

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3 — There is still time to see Matisse: The Red Studio at the Fondation Louis Vuitton if visiting Paris for the Olympics. This masterpiece on loan from New York’s MoMA is exhibited for the first time with the paintings it depicts. The frank but subtle colours of these pieces were novel at the beginning of the 20th Century and feel extremely contemporary. In the words of the exhibition curator Ann Temkin, “Now over 110 years old, The Red Studio is both a landmark within the centuries-long tradition of studio paintings and a foundational work of modern art.”

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4 — We are a little bit obsessed with reading in context of a setting and the summer holidays are just the right excuse to indulge in this pleasure. There is something akin to “feeling in the know” and exhilaration when reading Hello Sadness while sitting on a beach on the French riviera. Many other books take place around the Mediterranean, where the sea is also part of the story, such as Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels, Gerald Durrell’s My Family and Other Animals and Polly Samson’s A Theatre for Dreamers.

If looking at the other side of the ocean, the novel that is considered a classic Los Angeles novel is Joan Didion’s Play It As It Lays and an atmospheric depiction of Cape Cod can be found in Miranda Cowley Heller’s The Paper Palace. Also featuring the New England bay, Sandwich by Catherine Newman sees its heroin “sandwiched” between children who are growing up and parents who are ageing; a situation that is familiar to many. It is a funny yet emotional read which are the essential attributes of a holiday book.

All these books deserve to be read again if you find yourself in one of these places this summer.

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5 — July tables would not be complete without a homemade ice cream and our favourite is the River Café’s Peaches and Cream, written by Lucy Boyd. Make sure the peaches are at their best.

Heat 875ml of double cream together with 225 ml of milk and the seeds of 2 vanilla pods. Stir and bring to a simmer. Take off the heat and leave to cool slightly. Whisk 8 egg yolks with 175g of caster sugar. Add a couple of tablespoons of the cream mixture to the eggs. Then slowly add the egg mixture to the cream mixture and put over a low heat, stirring all the time. The cream is ready when it coats the back of a spoon. Leave to cool completely.

Peel the peaches (submerging than in boiling water for 30 seconds will help) and take out the stones. Squeeze some lemon juice over them to avoid discolouring. Blend the peaches with ½ a tablespoon of sugar and pulse to a pulp. Mix the peach pulp and the cream mixture and put in an ice-cream machine to churn.