By Rhonda Johnson
Updated March 18, 1994 at 05:00 AM EST

The Rationalist

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A potential Damage in period costume, this finely written tale of an 18th-century English doctor who enters into a dangerous liaison with a mysterious widow is initially promising. Silas Grange, a forward-thinking chap with a bent toward vegetarianism and the philosophy of Hume, is quite enthusiastic about participating in Celia Quill’s plan to enlighten her sexually repressed female friends and relatives. By the time Grange realizes that the frigid women warm up suspiciously fast, he is at the scheming widow’s mercy. He has fallen in love with Quill’s daughter and in hopes of seeing her again becomes something of a love slave. Unfortunately for readers anticipating the erotic obsession that sends the poor doctor over the deep end, too much of The Rationalist is devoted to his mental decline. B

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The Rationalist

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