It's a pity this book is so dull: it need not have been so. The two women it celebrates had two claims to fame: they knew Gertrude Stein when she was just another bourgeois like themselves, of a prosperous German-Jewish family; in the twenties and thirties, they bought paintings from the artists in Paris to whom Gertrude, Stein introduced them. Their collection, which Etta, the younger, left to the Baltimore Museum when she died in 1949, included over forty paintings by Matisse as well as some works of Picasso, whose drawings they had once bought off his studio floor for two dollars apiece. Admittedly, in other respects the lives of these two rich spinsters were uneventful: Claribel had a flamboyant air, and had been a doctor, but she abandoned her medical research, and spent the rest of her life shopping for paintings, curios, and objects d'art. Her sister Etta appears to have had the most jejeune of personalities despite her taste for Matisse. Even so, the book manages to throw away what dramatic elements there were in their lives for a sluggish chronicle punctuated by innumerable letters about e.g., the grapefruit Claribel arranged to be delivered to Etta and Gertrude on the steamship to Europe, and Gertrude's new corset covers.