Here is a passage from Bring Up the Bodies, the second, following Wolf Hall, of Hilary Mantel’s trilogy (the third is yet to be published) on Henry VIII’s romantic life. In this passage, seen from the perspective of protagonist Thomas Cromwell, the king’s powerful secretary, Anne is wearing out her welcome, having given Henry as of 1535 a daughter (eventually Queen Elizabeth I) and a miscarriage. The environment around the monarch, who wants a son and heir, and his court has become increasingly dangerous.
[Henry’s] relations with the queen, as the summer draws to its official end, are chary, uncertain, and fraught with distrust. Anne Boleyn is now thirty-four years old, an elegant woman, with a refinement that makes mere prettiness seem redundant. Once sinuous, she has become angular. She retains her dark glitter, now rubbed a little, flaking in places. Her prominent dark eyes she uses to good effect, and in this fashion: she glances at a man’s face, then her regard flits away, as if unconcerned, indifferent. There is a pause: as it might be, a breath. Then slowly, as if compelled, she turns her gaze back to him as if he is the only man in the world. She looks as if she is seeing him for the first time, and considering all sorts of uses for him, all sorts of possibilities which he has not even thought of himself. To her victim the moment seems to last an age, during which shivers run up his spine. Though in fact the trick is quick, cheap, effective and repeatable, it seems to the poor fellow that he is now distinguished among all men. He smirks. He preens himself. He grows a little taller. He grows a little more foolish.