Should Davey come out to his mother? That's the only issue in this tedious gay novel, which is stuck uncomfortably somewhere between the old-fashioned reticence of Forster's Maurice and the contemporary ambiance of an Armistead Maupin. A first US publication for this prolific Canadian novelist. The first third of this awkwardly structured novel--a mess of letters, diary entries, and narrative--covers the Bryants' family life in England during 1916-45 from the viewpoints of Davey and his strong-willed mother, Isabella. The latter was a professional working woman who then married a Cornish farmer and bore him three sons; Davey, her favorite, is a precocious chatterbox. Isabella will later drive a London ambulance during WW II and become friends with a Charlotte Churchfield. The two women are ``innocent Sapphists'' who ``do everything together except the bed thing.'' By now, Davey is a young sailor who's been arrested for importuning; though both his parents know of the incident, it's never discussed. Demobbed, Davey meets his first boyfriend and they vacation in Paris, where Davey finds a sugar-daddy who persuades him to study at the Sorbonne. Mama doesn't like it, but once again Anglo-Saxon attitudes prevail, and Davey's new relationship goes undiscussed. A year later, the smug freeloader falls in love with Ken, an American student, and emigrates to the States without taking leave of his doting, check-writing mother. Forward to San Francisco, 1960. Davey, now a journalist and still Ken's lover, is anxiously awaiting the arrival of Isabella, on a round-the-world cruise with Charlotte. How will she react to his gay circle? All goes swimmingly: there's a discreet dinner-party toast ``to the nature of things,'' and Davey realizes that being only half out of the closet suits him just fine. A tempest in a teapot, then, for a quite unlikable guy.