Miss Ulysses from Puka-Puka: The Autobiography of a South Sea Trader’s Daughter
Florence Johnny Frisbie
Softcover, 340 pp.
Florence (Johnny) Frisbie’s classic story of a young girl growing up on a remote island in the Cook Islands group will be available in spring, 2016 as a paperback and e-book. Out of print for more than sixty years, Johnny has added two new chapters to the original book and illustrated it with family photos and three maps.
Miss Ulysses of Puka-Puka is the amazing story of life on a remote coral atoll. It is all the more fascinating because it was written when Johnny was between the ages of 12 and 14, and published in 1948 when she was 15. Through Johnny’s fresh and unspoiled eyes, we read of a Garden-of-Eden existence on a remote atoll, where the land and the sea provide all that is necessary for life. The sea brings danger as well; Johnny describes the terror of a hurricane that all but destroys a deserted island where her family is marooned. The sea rises and floods the entire island to a depth of six feet; they barely survive by tying themselves to the topmost branches of a tall tree. Johnny’s writing sparkles. She has humor and wisdom beyond her years and has written a compelling and classic book.
Born in Tahiti, second child of Ngatokorua a Mata á and Robert Dean Frisbie, Johnny spent most of her childhood on Puka-Puka and several other Cook Islands, including an uninhabited atoll, Suvorov, and also Samoa. As an orphan, following her father’s death, she completed her schooling in Hawaii, and went on to live and work in Japan, New Zealand, and again, briefly, in Rarotonga. Miss Ulysses, her first book, was written in three languages (Puka-Pukan, Samoan, English), and was the first publication by a Pacific Island woman writer.
Subsequent writings include an account of her return to Puka-Puka and reunion with her grandmother, newspaper columns about life in the Pacific, and numerous short stories about children’s experiences of life on Pacific Islands. Most recently she participated in a documentary film, Homecoming: A Film About Puka-Puka, which she is hopeful will also highlight the plight of the Puka-Pukan people (and other atoll island dwellers) facing the consequences of global warming and sea level rise. The film will be released in late 2016. Johnny currently resides in Hawaii.