The three women indicated by the title have been included in numerous other books, but their lives are here woven into a balanced pattern by the wife of Van Wyck Brooks. This is a solid and informative book; the women are high-minded and pious, fairly formidable figures in their day and all reflecting certain similarities. Dorothea Lynde Dix, almost single-handed, reformed the care of the insane in this country. Elizabeth Peabody, Boston bluestocking, was a teacher and pioneer in education, Catherine Maria Sedgwick as a novelist was once widely read. All were born in New England between 1789 and 1804; all chose careers instead of marriage; all were deeply influenced by the teaching of the saintly William Ellery Channing, the great Unitarian Divine. While Dorothea Dix and Elizabeth Peabody are names best known today, Catherine Sedgwick seems the most appealing of the three. There is little humor in the book -- it lacks the light touch that gives Louise Tharp's comparable biographies their place in the heart of the public. But the portrait of American life in the early 19th century is vigorously portrayed, and there is much that is new and fresh.