Enter the world of Evie Steppman, born into the dying days of the British Empire in Nigeria. It's loud and cacophonous. Why? Because Evie can hear things no one else can. Although she's too young to understand all the sounds she takes in, she hoards them in a vast internal sonic archive.
Today, alone in an attic in Scotland, Evie's powers of hearing are starting to fade, and she must write her story before it disintegrates into a meaningless din. But the attic itself is not as quiet as she hoped. The scratching of mice, the hum of traffic, the tic-toc of a pocket watch and countless other sounds merge with the noises of Evie's past: her time in the womb, her childhood in Nigeria, her travels across America with her lover . . .