Amorous Woman by Donna George Storey is an erotic novel that follows an American named Lydia through Japan, guided by her loves, lusts, and desires. Storey structures the novel as a bildungsroman, with Lydia getting her first taste of sex at a frat party. After studying Japanese in college, Lydia works in Japan teaching English to businessmen. Eventually the stay in Japan becomes less temporary when she marries a native countryman. With her husband away at the office, she feels neglected and neglect leads to adultery and the complications that occur when the physical and emotional needs of a partner can’t be met. Lydia’s adulteries lead to other situations and other men. Written in the first person, the reader experiences Lydia’s lusts and the emotional consequences of adultery, fantasy, and decisions, good and bad. The Shinto and Buddhist philosophies offer a window into an ethos readers might not be familiar with, but well worth exploring.
The novel is loosely based on the 17th century story of the same title, written by Ihara Saikaku. Storey knows Japanese culture, both from academic study and first hand knowledge. One of the rare pleasures of reading the novel was encountering foreign terms and phrases. The foreign terms are translated and explained, the linguistic nuances complementing the nuances of love and lust Lydia encounters in her life journey.