Love in the Time of Cholera
How we cite our quotes:
The she took the final step: she searched for him where he was not, she searched again without hope, and she found him unarmed.
"It's dead," he said […] "Too much love is as bad for this as no love at all."
But he said it without conviction: he was ashamed, furious with himself, longing for some reason to blame her for his failure. (6.202)
Well this isn't how the typical romance story is supposed to go. The hero finally gets the heroine into the sack…and he's impotent. Poor Florentino – he wants so desperately for his love affair with Fermina to follow all the romantic clichés, but reality has intervened at every turn. This time he's been thwarted by his own body.
It was the first time she had made love in over twenty years, and she had been held back by her curiosity concerning how it would feel at her age after so long a respite. But he had not given her time to find out if her body loved him too. It had been hurried and sad, and she thought: Now we've screwed up everything. (6.206)
For all his experience, Florentino's first sexual encounter with Fermina is so bad it could be the awkward first time of a teenager. So much for "doing it like grownups."
When at last she recovered her self-possession in the perfumed oasis of her cabin, they made the tranquil, wholesome love of experienced grandparents, which she would keep as her best memory of that lunatic voyage. It was as if they had leapt over the arduous cavalry of conjugal life and gone straight to the heart of love. (6.221)
Fermina and Florentino finally get it right, but again, this is not the passionate, bodice-ripping sexual encounter of most romantic novels. The lovers are elderly, and, while they have to take it slowly, their age and experience enables them to encounter something deeper than just passion.