It is always exciting to see what readers have made of my work, and if they agree or disagree with my own private views and hopes, and if they like or loath my experiments. And I was delighted that Watson liked Dennis so much, and saw what I did:
The beautiful Dennis, 22 years old, finds it difficult to make Catriona love him for who he really is—a man who knows his own mind and wants to marry her despite their difference in age and experience. There is an interesting gender reversal here: it is the younger man who is objectified and patronised by an older female lover, as opposed to the unequal relationship between the cynical Fowler and lovely, docile Phuong in The Quiet American. His is a perceived, rather than an actual, innocence—his maturity and devotion make him, in my mind, the most sympathetic character in the novel.
Emily Watson picked a great photo, too.I always imagined Catriona as much more attractive than she let on.