For more than twenty lonesome years after Gertrude Stein's death, her lover and lifelong companion lived rather sadly on, mainly in the past, documenting, via letters whose interest lies mainly in what they exhibit of devotion (meticulous and proprietary care of Stein's mss. and famous picture collection), what is surely one of the most extraordinary romances of the century. Of course Toklas, author of the infamous cookbook (the hash brownies turn out to be the invention of an elfin friend) had her own life: walking Basket (Stein's much-publicized dog) as she bought groceries for her gourmet meals, art exhibits, visits to friends (Picasso, Pierre Balmain). But increasingly ill and finally bed-ridden, half-blind, existence becomes mainly a futile, poignant effort to save the pictures, finally the apartment at 5 rue Christine, Paris VI, which she and Gertrude had shared for 38 years -- where most of the books had been written and the celebrated salons (Hemingway, Fitzgerald, et al.) held. This is a touching, sometimes tedious portrait of a reticent, old-fashionedly courteous woman to whom receiving a scarf or walking in the park became an extraordinary adventure -- an ordinary somewhat eccentric lady whose ""Baby Woojums"" just happened to be the most experimental and possibly the best American writer of this century.