The scene is a beach house on an island off the Maine coast, where two widowed sisters, Sarah Walker and Elizabeth Strong, have been summering for many years.
Elizabeth, the eldest and now blind, has grown increasingly reclusive and irritable, as she progressively closes down each of her senses while awaiting "the escort" who will carry her off to join her late husband. Sarah, much younger and still incurably romantic, now tends her sister, repaying the debt which was incurred when their mother died and the older sister assumed maternal responsibilities.
Wistful and autumnal in mood, the play focuses on the seemingly insignificant events of their ordered lives: whether to install a picture window in order to get a better view of the whales who pass by at summer's end; and Elizabeth's guarded reaction to the charming Russian emigre who, in need of a place to stay, works his wiles on the still impressionable Sarah.
In the end the play concludes as quietly as it began, but the two sisters have come to decisions which, for them, are both momentous and filled with the bittersweet recognition that life, despite the alterations of time, must continue as best it can.