A Matter of Time is the few weeks which Blix has left to live; she's dying of cancer and is now attended by her older sister, Tassie, who tells the story here--Tassie the useful one, who had been kind of a surrogate mother to Blix, more ornamental, charming, indulged as a girl, and still determined to make a ""well-dressed exit"" since ""dying, like living, is a performance."" Together they have The Plan--to hide the pills until the time seems right to take them; and together they spend the small hours of the morning, talking, remembering, shuttling backward and forward in time, filling in here and there episodes in their childhood, their marriages, much of it non-sequential, some of it still incomplete. All of it is handled with a lenitive, comfortable familiarity of detail so that it manages ""to take in simultaneously the presence of life and the fact of death."" And life really wins in this case since without any of the defiance of say Lael Tucker Wertenbaker, Blix and Tassie remain undefeated. It is all done in such a way that it wholly appropriates your sympathy and it would seem almost impossible to remain disengaged or unmoved.