Though her adoptive father is a compassionate doctor who inspires Natalie to follow in his footsteps, and her mother a groovy and artistic lady who picks dandelions in her nightgown (a supposedly hilarious story) and does such mad things as paint her clawfoot bathtub's toenails Crimson Passion, 17-year-old Natalie Armstrong is determined to track down her natural parents. Feeling hurt at first, the Armstrongs give her time, money, documents, and a car with which to conduct her quest; and after some mechanical poking about and scarcely a setback, she manages a brief but sufficient encounter with the poised, complacently settled, famous model of 32 who had given birth at 15, after giving in just once to a demanding, immature college boy. That established, Natalie can go back to being an Armstrong and to appreciating, among the other family members, her creative sculptor grandmother who just loves "how saffron changes ordinary rice to such a marvelous shade of gold" and who amazes them all with her handmade giftwrap and her earth-toned decor. The one false note in Lowry's affecting A Summer to Die (1977) was her treatment of the "hippie" couple and the town's far-fetched intolerance. But compared to the characters and relationships here--right down to such bit-players as Natalie's very undemanding boyfriend and a modern-type librarian who helps in her search--the entire previous novel was a model of precision and subtle modulation. This one is readable, but grating.