Hanrahan, an Australian writer and painter, has published extensively, but this is the first of her work to appear here. Dove, the protagonist of this novella, grows up in the fertile Hills country, always mindful of the often-heard story of her breathless, unprepared--for entrance into life. (Her mother gave birth to her on the ground, while visiting a public gardens.) Unpreparedness seems to dog Dove thereafter, too; eventually she's taken in by a rich local woman, Mrs. Arden, to be a surrogate daughter--and rival (an unprepared one) to the Ardens' natural son, Valentine. Dove's entire life, in fact, is one long wavering recapitulation: marriage to a local farmer, Travice; abandonment; child-loss; the giving-over of the second child for adoption (to the Ardens again). But Hanrahan never finds much of a point in Dove's relentless tale of woe; she writes in smudgy gasps, good sentences but hardly a paragraph that conforms with definition and clarity. So, though occasionally exotic, this small book seems more raw palette than finished portrait--and too frequently it's just plain confusing.