Papillon – another book with a butterfly on the cover

I dug out my old paperback copy of Papillon today. I remember when this book first came out, how its distinctive title and image adorned the bookshelves in WH Smith, then later watching the tenacious movie with Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman. 

Papillon is another book with a butterfly on the front cover (‘Butterfly’ is the protagonist’s eponymous nickname) and about a man determined to escape from an island. Any similarities with Both Feet in Paradise end there, though, for Henri Charrière, aka Papillon, was a convicted safe-cracker sentenced to life imprisonment in the infamous penal colony of Îles du Salut in French Guyana. He did time on each of its three penal islands – several years in solitary confinement on Île Sainte Joseph, a few more in an asylum for the insane on Royale Island, and finally was transferred to Devil’s Island, the smallest and most inescapable island in the group, from which – as you’d expect – he escaped.…

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