Winona's Web: A Novel of Discovery

Priscilla Cogan, Author
Priscilla Cogan, Author Face to Face Books $21 (280p) ISBN 978-1-883953-15-7
Reviewed on: 09/02/1996
Release date: 09/01/1996
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-57453-221-0
Hardcover - 444 pages - 978-0-7862-1322-1
Hardcover - 280 pages - 978-1-929590-09-4
Paperback - 238 pages - 978-1-929590-14-8
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Contrasting the values of modern Western culture with Native American beliefs, Cogan's well-told first novel pits a Michigan psychotherapist against an elderly Lakota woman who seemingly chooses death over life. Winona Pathfinder, a healthy 69-year-old medicine woman, walks into the office of narrator Megan O'Connor after being referred by her daughter, to whom Winona has revealed that she intends to die in two months. At first, Megan uses standard therapy tactics to try to shake Winona's preoccupation with death. When that fails, Megan begins to listen to her story; soon she becomes a pupil, as Winona imparts the Lakota way of life. As the sessions go on, the two women become friends, and the divorced therapist begins to see how her own loneliness is caused by what Winona sees as a lack of balance. The conceit may be cliched, but Cogan has a talent for characterization and weaves together the strengths and weaknesses of the two women with grace and flair. The author, a psychotherapist with a background in Native American ceremonies, earns bonus points for presenting the cultural material without proselytizing. More problematic are the sections dealing with Megan's friendships and infrequent romantic adventures, many of them mawkish. Though they represent a significant flaw, they seldom get in the way of a story that's full of understanding and compassion. (Sept.)
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