WE meet our heroine, Madeline Wolfe, in the labour ward. She's unmarried. So the fate of the red-hot love affair with television celebrity naturalist Alexander Drake that has lured her from Down Under to the Mother Country, is known at the outset. No mystery here. Rather, the unravelling of a tortured year of love and lust, viewed through Maddy's ''little periscope above the pain'', compliments of valium. It has all the makings of a hilarious tale of dirty deeds (mostly men's), spiced with a tongue-in-cheek indictment of the circle of oh-so-English pseuds in which Alex moves and climaxing with a no-holds-barred account of the labour ward denouement of Maddy's love-is-blind gullibility. Kathy Lette, a London-based Australian, has been hailed as a great comic talent. Her 1979 first novel Puberty Blues was a bestseller and an Australian classic, as was the film of the book. But tantalising as Foetal Attraction's ''men are basically bastards'' theme may be, it isn't in the same league. At 280 pages, Maddy's ''emotional white knuckle ride'' is a few light, bright hours of entertainment, but no more. From the name-dropping Leading Literary Agent and his model-turned-actress and Earth Mother de facto to the World Famous Rock Star and his bulimic, film-maker wife, her characters are stereotyped caricatures. And though she intends it that way, poking not-so-gentle fun at the English upper middle classes and even at ''true love'', it doesn't quite work. There are amusing, even hilarious patches. But the overall effect is of a woman trying too hard to produce what has become expected of her.