At first this novel seems to be merely a fey portrait of a precious Dublin mÃ‰nage: Eddie and Maurice (lovers); Maria Keeley, once a famous Irish opera singer (now known as ""The La""); and Jim Dillingham, an ex-priest who removed his collar when he was revealed to be the author of a pseudonymous book which argued against the notion of original sin. Eventually, however, this turns out to be a noble and dignified drama (perhaps too noble), in which the housemates will expose their needs and reach out to each other. Maurice is dying of leukemia--with Eddie unable to figure out how to live without him. 'The La"" is a kleptomaniac. And Jim Dillingham's spiritual trial, prompted by the remarkable love shared by Eddie and Maurice during the latter's last days, is actually one of regaining the faith that he's so sure has been lost forever. Finally, then, in the novel's most harrowing scene, the dying Maurice will force Eddie to declare his hatred and disgust for a world that is so cruel as to leave him alone, without Maurice. And Dillingham will in all compassion reach out physically to Eddie--but when Eddie rejects him, the expriest will rejoin the clergy . . . or at least assume some of its soul-saving functions. This denouement, unfortunately, is all too distinctly predictable. And Irish novelist Broderick tends, obtrusively, to sermonize. But overall this is serious, unflashy fiction of nuance and responsibility--quietly stirring at least as often as it is sluggish or pious.