Vicki Mackenzie has been a features writer for The Daily Sketch and The Daily Mail and has written for The Sunday Times, The Observer, The Daily Express, The Mail on Sunday, and many national Australian magazines.
Very possibly, the central figures of these two books‘one German, the other British‘met during their Buddhist training and charitable work. They undergo similar transformations, abandoning established middle-class lives to adhere to strict Buddhist rules of self-denial, meditation, and hardship. Khema, however, escaped Nazi Germany and had a remarkably peripatetic life that entailed two marriages and much travel. Her telling of her search for Buddhism and life as a nun dwells on the facts of her travels and good works rather than inner thoughts. Despite professions of humility and selflessness, she appears arrogant and proud. But perhaps this impression comes from the process of dictation and a translation from German that is full of clichés and inappropriate expressions. On the other hand, in Cave in the Snow, Mackenzie, a journalist with a special interest in Buddhism, recounts with passion and beauty the story of Tenzin Palmo (née Diane Perry), which involved 12 years of living in an Indian cave, snowbound for eight months of each year. She delves into Palmo's motivations, feelings, thoughts, and teachings, presenting the facts of her life while preserving the anguish, desire, conviction, and conflict that accompanied her conversion to Buddhism. The result is thoroughly engrossing.‘Kitty Chen Dean, Nassau Coll., Garden City, NY