LOOKING AT WHAT GOES ON UNDER THE CLOTHES
‘Let him in,’ she said.
I hesitated. She was tying her skirt around her waist but apart from that she was naked. ‘Go on,’ she said wilfully.
I shrugged and opened the door. George recoiled at the sight of his sister, her dark hair tumbled over her naked breasts…
Anne, holding the stomacher across her naked breasts and belly, turned her bare back to George to lace her up. He rose to his feet and threaded the laces through the holes in the criss-cross pattern. At every insertion of the thread his hand brushed her skin and I saw her close her eyes in pleasure at the continual caress. George’s face was dark, he was scowling as he did her bidding. ‘Anything else?’ he asked. ‘Tie your shoes for you? Polish your boots?’
‘Don’t you want to touch me?’ she taunted him. ‘I’m good enough for the king.’
‘You’re good enough for the bagnio’ he said brutally. ‘Get your cape, if you’re coming.’
Gregory is very good at portraying characters who don’t know how things will turn out – even though hundreds of years later we know exactly what will happen, we can get caught up in it, somehow almost think that Anne will conceive the son who would have saved her. The book is also very good on how those apparently small things – conception, fertility, sex of a child – can change things, for men as well as women, as can barrenness and missed chances.
The stomacher was the front part of the bodice, and could either be the stays / part of a corset, or could cover the undergarment. In this case it is obviously the former.
ADDED LATER: see the comments below for a costume expert's view on what Anne Boleyn would have been wearing.
Links on the blog: The Other Boleyn Girl featured before, here and here, and more Tudors in Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies.
The gorgeous picture is a photo by Jean-Pol Grandemont, and comes from Wikimedia Commons.