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Thinking of buying a DNA testing kit for Christmas? You may find out more than you bargained for…

Secrets are as synonymous with families as happiness, the murky flipside of everything that’s supposed to keep us close

DNA kits can unearth the thing buried at the heart of so many families: secrets. Illustration: Kate Hazell

As a story-loving child more likely to be found playing detectives than the now-suspect doctors and nurses, I yearned for a family secret. My parents had both been raised with them: in my mother’s case, her dad’s Jewishness was kept hidden from her; in my father’s, paternity remained an unsolved mystery (Pétainist French Catholic priest or local milkman?).

But I wanted my own, preferably one that, hewing to the family theme,…

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