Set in Providence, Rhode Island, it focuses on eight sisters of Irish descent who meet on alternate Friday evenings over a ten year period to play bridge and gossip. Ann Conroy, married to a man who drinks too much, is a no-nonsense schoolteacher who hosts the bridge nights. Martha McDermitt, the widowed eldest sister, is known for her sense of responsibility and stern personality. Mary Margaret Donovan is a spinster who lives with younger sister Alice Monahan and her husband Walter, who have no children. In the second act, Mary Margaret uses a wheelchair and has a slight speech impediment due to a stroke. Nora Hiller is an easy-going woman devoted to her husband Lawrence and their children. Connie Emerson is always quick with a wisecrack. Lil Carmody is a free spirit who plays piano, and Betsy Bailey is the youngest, a melancholy married woman with two children who is struggling to find her own identity.