This is virtually two books -- though the connecting thread is there between the glamorous years when the Cook sisters pinched pennies to spend them following favorite opera stars where special performances and appearances beckoned -- to the war years when they played the part of rescuers to numerous of Europe's oppressed...Their passion for opera was first sparked by the acquisition of a gramophone and the start of a modest collection of records. Galli Curci was their first big thrill, and it was after hearing her and meeting her that the mad impulse to go to New York to hear her sing Traviata at the Met was born. No simple decision this for two english Civil Service clerks, whose total earnings approximated six pounds a week. But they saved the 100 pounds of their estimated need -- in two years- and on arrival in New York, soon found themselves news. From that moment on- until war crashed about their ears- work meant only subsistence while saving for other trips -- America again, Holland, Germany, Austria, Italy. Their almost native enthusiasm won them half-amused recognition and then friendship, from not only Galli Curci but Ponselle, Pinza, Rethberg, Ursuleac Kraus and many other opera greats whose names are magic to devotees. The reader shares the adventures of these friendships- and the sense of a warm family circle in the background. Then- with approach of clouds over Europe, the Cook girls' tender hearts were enlisted (and their still slender pocketbooks and boundless energies) in rescuing not only musicians, but other refugees from the clutch of the Nazis. Lots of personal experience here, in lively recall. And always, the star ahead, symbolized by a determination to see- and they hoped to hear- Ponselle again. A unique story, simply told.