NOT A novel. A series of images in the form of prose episodes. Their meaning, if any, to emerge when at the end one can look back to try and make out the significant patterns. . . as a man sees from a plane the track of a Roman road under crops and chicken runs."" NOT A novel then--a collage of ideas, perceptions, perspectives annotated with a sophisticated sensibility and always stressing the parallelism of life and art even if ""It's easier to put people in boxes than in books."" But there are people here appearing and reappearing: her husband; her children; her friends--Lola with a litter of children of different paternities; Ardis a ""middle aged Juliet"" and sexual floater; Pat whose affair goes awry; relatives. . . . And snatches of dreams, statements of Lenny Bruce, newspaper clippings. . . . And ideas all of which relate to women (female and feminist concerns), birth, death, old age and which represent a fresher, younger Marya Mannes. So that Natural History is just as alive as the title suggests--mobile, astute, witty recognitions.