The novel chronicles 25 years of the lives of the Henrys and the things that happen to them because of the secret Dr Henry has kept. The reader begins to wonder "what if" - what if Dr Henry had told his wife about the baby sooner? What if he had never lied to her at all? What if the nurse had left her at the institution? What if the nurse had not been there at all? The novel shows that a secret, especially one as big as this one, can have far reaching and long lasting effects not only on the people the secret is kept FROM but also one the one keeping the secret.