A lifespan story of Sara Dane, who came to Botany Bay in a convict ship and became one of the foremost landowners in Australia. As a portrait of a country in the throes of birth, this is a fascinating revelation of the difficulties in making a country that stands on its own out of a dumping ground for the dregs of society. Only the raw settlements of the coastal area were known; the opportunities of the river basins and the plains of the hinterland demanded the imagination, courage, vision and energy of such men as Andrew Macklay who resigned his commission as second officer on the ship to marry the mysterious convict-Sara Dane, and to cast his lot in the new country. That ambition sometimes threatened to outweigh his finer qualities was almost inevitable-but this ambition was directed not only to expanding his holdings, experimenting with new projects, gambling with the opportunities the new continent offered, but putting under financial obligations to him those who could help win social recognition for his wife. Sara had accepted the anomalous position of a one-time convict (though the crime was a negligible one) until it began to affect her children. Then she too, after Andrew's death, gambled with her own happiness to win a place for them. Her's is a strange, and not wholly convincing, story of three loves-and a fourth that might have been the staunchest -- and of rejection of what she thought she wanted at the end for reclaiming the country she had come to love so passionately. The book is overlong, uneven in its writing, but one reads to the end with absorption in the unity between background and people that the author has achieved. Rarely a story of the lands down under has this quality. Green Delphin Street by Elizabeth Goudge (New Zealand) had it; and Martin Boyd's Lucinda Brayford. Try that market.