In Colombia just after the Great War, an old man falls from a ladder; dying, he professes great love for his wife. After the funeral, a man calls on the widow - she dismisses him angrily. Flash back more than 50 years to the day Florentino Ariza, a telegraph boy, falls in love with Fermina Daza, the daughter of a mule trader. Ariza is persistent, writing her constantly, serenading, speaking poetically of love. Her father tries to keep them apart, and then, one day, she sees this love as an illusion. She's soon married to Urbino, a cultured physician, and for years, Ariza carries a torch, finding solace in the arms of women, loving none. After Urbino's fall, are Ariza's hopes delusional?