Charles Eagle – the father Portia never knew

This is a photo of Albert Ball (from Wikipedia) but he looks a lot like Charles Eagle in my mind’s eye.

You never actually meet Charles Eagle, husband to Marie Adams, and father to Portia Adams in the books. The reason is simple: he was killed in the first world war when Portia was 5 years old so she never knew him. His gravestone is described in Book 2 as “on some distant French shore” like Normandy or Juno Beach. He was but 26 years old when he died, leaving behind a young wife and child in Toronto, Canada.

In my mind’s eye, Charles was a tall, handsome man, his eyes the same blue as Portia’s, described by Marie Adams as periwinkle in colour. He was a hero who died in the war, and remembered by his family as social and kind. Where Portia is madly curious by nature, she did not inherit that trait from her father, who was content to enjoy a simpler life with his family and friends. He would have had the opportunity to be highly educated, but turned it down, preferring to work with his hands, perhaps as a carpenter or tradesman of some type. He chose to move the family from San Francisco to Canada, looking for work as the extreme downturn in the economy made it harder to support his growing family.

At the beginning of Jewel of the Thames, Portia believes her father was an orphan. She was told that by her mother, who it turns out lied to her about that, choosing to hide his true parentage from Portia.

It is not till her mother has been dead for almost a year that Portia figures out her father’s real origins, and discovers that her paternal grandparents are very much alive.

Charles Eagle and Portia Adams share a few traits, and one of the sadder ones is that neither grew up with their father. I like to think that were he alive, he would be proud of our brave detective. What do you think?

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8 thoughts on “Charles Eagle – the father Portia never knew

  1. In addition to his surname (in translation), I found it interesting that he was called Charles. In Irish, that’s a Norman name that has been Hibernicized as Séarlas – in his case, making him Séarlas Óg (Charles the Younger), which, depending on local Irish accent, could very well sound a lot like the forename of another character. That forename also happens to be a surname that’s widely distributed across Ireland, and although one opinion is that the name derives from Old English for “fair haired,” in consideration of the strong patronymic tradition in Ireland, I think an assimilated Norman origin is a more logical interpretation. (Perhaps this is just serendipity, and you didn’t intend it to be part of the mystery, but that’s what occurred to me when I read the book.)

  2. I love this Christine! I wish I could say that all of that forethought went into Charles’ naming, but I’m thrilled to know it works on your level of understanding as well. In terms of his last name though THAT I thought about a lot as you know.

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