The three women indicated by the title have figured in other books and are here interwoven into a canvas of life in early 19th century America by the wife of Van Wyck Brooks. The women are high-minded and pious, fairly formidable figures in their day. Dorothea Lynde Dix almost single-handedly reformed the care of the insane. Elizabeth Peabody, Boston bluestocking, was a teacher and pioneer in education. Catherine Maria Sedgwick's novels were once widely read. There is little humor here -- none of the light touch that gives Louise Tharp's comparable biographics their place in the heart of the public, but there is much that is new and fresh on the period.