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140 Reviews
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You Want To Put It Down!
This is simply one of my favourite books and a must read for anyone with a sense of adventure. The authors descriptions of the conditions he has to endure during both imprisonment and escape are vivid and this provides the book with a real edge. I often wondered what hell he would have to endure next or which of his colleagues would be left for dead or captured. I read it...
Published on 14 July 2005 by Stupot

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Over-rated
Ok, after all the rave reviews i brought myself a copy. Its a fascinating and brutal story of determination and optimism. At times harrowing and at times enlightening. Its not brilliantly written though (maybe due to the translation?) and at times it has an air of fiction to it which spoilt the enjoyment of the whole book. Nevertheless its a worthwhile read if you like...
Published 9 months ago by mark harridge


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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars amazing story, 6 May 2014
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An amazing story. Couldn't put the book down. Was almost unbelievable that someone went through all of this adventure on their path to freedom
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic!, 5 May 2014
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Well written, I read this many years ago and decided to take it on holiday and read again, and I am so glad I did as I thourghly enjoyed it.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A pompous page turner, 11 Feb 2014
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Fun and historically interesting. Similar to Shantaram in many ways: a great yarn, narrated by an author with a high sense of self-worth. It verges on the fantastical. The writing is not of a very high quality, but that said - I was compelled to keep reading.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic., 16 Jun 2012
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I could write a whole essay on this book, it's a complete classic.

Charriere's writing is impeccable, his ability to write words and create metaphors draws you into the novel. From his nickname alone 'Papillon' french for butterfly he produces this beautiful metaphor of his want to escape and gain freedom.

It is an adventure story like no other. Supposedly sentenced to life service for a crime he didn't commit, from the very start you take a liking to the character and understand his desperation for freedom from a life that is hellish and full of day to day brutality. You want to keep reading to make sure he manages to gain the freedom despite whether he is innocent or guilty.

There are a few negative points. For instance at times his ego seems highly self-inflated and the way everything seems to go his way suggests that despite the overall preconception that this is based on a true story, parts must have been written for entertainment effect. It also gets frustrating that it takes so long to make a successful escape that you do start to lose interest in parts.

However, through the delving into the psychology of a man trapped in prison and solitary confinement, he makes this more than a simple prison escape novel.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 13 Sep 2014
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great read
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6 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The truth is that Papillon should be in the FICTION section., 23 Jan 2001
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This review is from: Papillon (Paperback)
Papillon. Another reviewer states that it becomes more and more unbeleiveable as it is read. Yes it does. My copy of Papillon poetically ended up on the shores of Devil's Island when I found out the facts. Papillon was good with keeping books. he was unpopular as a convict on the islands as he always worked for the administration and also had to sleep in different quarters from the rest of the convicts. the geographical distances of his adventures in french guiana are greatly exaggerated for effect and to cap it all, PAPILLON didn't even escape from the Iles de Salut. he escaped from the prison in Cayenne, which is a much less amazing feat, especially when the penal colonies were not far from being closed down anyway. once one sees this, one can only enjoy Papillon as a work of fiction, but as it claims to be a bigraphical work i am unprepared to read it as a work of fiction. one has to admire papillon for making money out of his punishment for murder, but the difference between fact and fiction here make his character all the more extravagent, fictional itself and therefore void of my sympathy.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Traditional Adventure Book, 6 Jun 2009
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J. M. Salinas (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Well, here's a modern day adventures book much in the line of Jack London or R.L. Stevenson, with the added twist that this is on is for real, or at least it claims to be. No doubt most of it is, but you get the impression some of the facts and situations have been embellished by the author.

Still, the book is hihgly entertaining, drawing you into an exotic world of caribbean prisons, bent warders and strange personal relationships between the book's anti hero, Papillon, and the prison governors.

Read nowadays, the book produces both attraction and rejection. Attraction because it succeeds in making you want to be him, drawn into his world of low lifes and convicted gangsters. Rejection because of Papillon's attitude towards the Arabs in the book: none of them is mentioned by first name unlike every other character, they are all branded as homosexual and one is even accused of using a baby as a human shield when pointed at with a carbin.

As a true crime book, Papillon does not hold up as well as Howard Mark's Mr Nice, nor is the main character as likeable, but still worth a read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 13 Aug 2014
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Gripping.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Added to my favourites, 24 April 2013
The voice of Papillon is unique and eloquent without being strange or difficult to understand. His imagery and emotional descriptions of harrowing situations give an insight into what a tenacious and positive spirit Charriere owned. A highly recommended read for all.
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4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Gripping, but do you really believe it all?, 28 Oct 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Papillon (Paperback)
I have read Papillon at least 9 times and yet I've given this gripping tale only 3 stars.
Why?
The more I read the book the less I believe the author I'm afraid. As a narrative tale it is hard to fault but his leadership, strength, diplomacy and so on become increasingly unbelievable with every read.
Papillon is always the leader, always the mediator, always the advisor, always the top man.
A great read but take what he says with a seriously large pinch of salt.
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Papillon by Henri Charrière (Paperback - 1999)
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