The book presents life in Macau and Hong Kong from the Japanese invasion in 1941 through to the height of the Cultural Revolution in 1970. Camila de Guimarães finds herself stranded in Hong Kong, having tried to tame her lover Matthew Dixon into marriage. On failing, she opts for her next best choice in Raymond Leung, the son of a comprador. We catch up with her years later when she drives her car into a tree in what appears to have been a suicidal race through its narrow streets ending up against a tree on Avenida Republica. Her misery sets off a trail of events that see her daughter Estrela fall into the hands of Triad member Yip Kai Foon. Matthew's son Jude returns to Hong Kong to work for Shanghai Commercial Bank and through coincidence, he encounters Estrela in a doomed love triangle.
The book plots the changes in both colonies and the rising cultural independence of Chinese society. As part of a three book saga, Banyan Veil forms part of the Tree of Faith series and focuses upon Taoist and Confucian thinking and the emergence of Mao as a philosophical force.