Henri Charrière, called “Papillon,” for the butterfly tattoo on his chest, was convicted in Paris in 1931 of a murder he did not commit. Sentenced to life imprisonment in the penal colony of French Guiana, he became obsessed with one goal: “escape.” After planning and executing a series of treacherous yet failed attempts over many years, he was eventually sent to the notorious prison, Devil’s Island, a place from which no one had ever escaped . . . until Papillon. His flight to freedom remains one of the most incredible feats of human cunning, will, and endurance ever undertaken.
Charrière’s astonishing autobiography, “Papillon,” was published in France to instant acclaim in 1968, more than twenty years after his final escape. Since then, it has become a treasured classic — the gripping, shocking, ultimately uplifting odyssey of an innocent man who would not be defeated
Even though the author is silent all throughout the novel, on the plot of his conviction for murder in France except by saying that he was innocent, we really feel that he was really innocent. This, the author succeeds to prove through various instances in the novel. We also feel many occasions unbelievable where we see he is recognized instantly, and many show sympathy towards him which aids in his attempts for a ‘Cavale’
So fascinating is the narration of his experience in the island of Indian Hindus, where he found an interesting life with two ‘wives’- sisters, who competed with each other to get pregnant, which they succeed in the end. But we see Papillon makes his ‘cavale’ from there, bidding goodbye to the island, that took him another term of imprisonment and torture before he was released and made free in Venesuela after many years. So fascinating, haunting; you feel the pain and ecstasy. No escape till the last page, you sail along all ‘Cavale’ with them, happy reading.