Years ago I read an item in the newspaper about a married couple who’d been together for a long time —thirty years or so. Somehow, and I’ve forgotten exactly how, it was discovered they were actually brother and sister.
Can you imagine? They’d innocently met, fallen in love, married, and had children – the way most of us do. What a bombshell that knowledge must have been. How would you deal with the fact the man you loved, your husband, was your brother? Apparently they’d been separately adopted out as babies and grown up quite apart. I can’t remember if they even knew whether they had brothers or sisters somewhere. They certainly didn’t know they’d married a sibling.
I always wonder how their children felt about it. In ancient times, incest wasn’t such a taboo as nowadays and had to do with retaining wealth and property within the family. Most of the European royal families are now closely related to each other as an effect of marrying selected cousins through the ages. I think they drew the line at sibling marriages though.
For us, incest is a big no-no. This painful dilemma intrigued me and made me think there could be hundreds of such couples who never find out, especially after wars or natural disasters rip families apart and destroy records.
My problem was making the lack of early knowledge feasible and, of course, not wanting to write a book about incest, working out how two adult people might come to think they’re related, but fall in love regardless. I needed to avoid the ‘ick factor’ as one editor put it. And then once my couple figure out the truth amongst a morass of well-intentioned lies, they have to set about finding their real parents and what happened all those years ago — thus the ripple effect.