Age of Iron isn't the sexiest book ever, folks. Let's consider the following line: "Sixteen years since I shared a bed with a man or boy. Sixteen years alone. Does that surprise you?" (3.203). This kind of tells us all we need to know (although this line comes halfway through the book). Mrs. Curren puts it right out there: she hasn't been getting any play lately – in fact, she hasn't been getting any for almost, ahem, two decades. When we think about what this means to Mrs. Curren, we might come up with a couple of different ideas. On one level, it seems like she's gotten used to the fact that she's not getting it on with anyone – it's been a heck of a long time. On the other hand, she seems to be able to pinpoint exactly how long it's been, as if she's still been keeping track of her sex life (or lack thereof).
Now, just because Mrs. Curren isn't having any sex doesn't mean that she doesn't think about it from time to time. Remember that part early on in the novel when she imagined what it would be like to have sex with Vercueil? Still, she uses that more as a point to talk about the intimacy of sharing her space with someone else and not as a way to be like "oh yeah, that guy's totally hot." If you've ever read any of J.M. Coetzee's other novels, you might have been expecting to read something a little steamier when you picked this one up. Still, we've got to rate this one PG for sexual content, though we'd like to add that it would sure get an R for violence.