Read with Sharon - November 2023

Loot - Tania James

When I was stuck in bed for weeks after the surgery for my broken leg, a friend gave me a copy of Loot to help pass the time. Tania James is a local author so of course I was interested. And what a wonderful read.
Set in India, France and England at the turn of the eighteenth century, it’s the story of seventeen year-old Abbas, who makes toys and dreams of leaving his mark on the world. He is taken from his home and makes a life-sized automaton for the ruler of Mysore. The “toy” consists of a man wearing a red coat pinned on the ground under a giant cat. Turn a crank and the man groaned and wave done arm over his mouth while the animal growled.

Abbas’s contraption becomes the prize of the Sultan, and also one of the many treasures seized from the palace during the height of colonialism. Abbas’s quest to recover the automation is an inspirational story…one that emphasizes perseverance and determination in facing obstacles and setbacks that are seemingly impossible to overcome.

This month, we will be joined by Tania James on Thursday, November 30 at 7:00 pm EDT.

Until then, I hope you enjoy reading Loot.

Buy the Book


Abbas, the hero of James’ lively and symbolically rich third novel, is a poor 17-year-old artisan in Mysore in 1794 when he’s recruited by Tipu Sultan, the local ruler, to apprentice with Lucien Du Leze, a French clockmaker.

A spellbinding historical novel set in the eighteenth century – a hero’s quest, a love story, the story of a young artist coming of age, and an exuberant heist adventure that traces the bloody legacy of colonialism across two continents and fifty years. A wildly inventive, irresistible feat of storytelling from a writer at the height of her powers.

Loot - Tania James

Book Club Questions


  1. What did you think of Abbas?
  2. How was Abbas’s creativity nurtured and stifled by different people throughout his life?


  1. What are the different factors that go into social class/caste in Mysore at the time we meet the characters?
  2. Did Abbas make the right choice in staying behind in India after the siege? How might things have been different for him and Du Leze if they had left together?
  3. Why do you think the book is named after the card game that Jehanne and Lady Selwyn play?


  1. Did it work for you? What would you have changed?
  2. What do you think is the author’s message to readers of Loot?
  3. What did you take away from the book?
  4. Are you left with any questions?


  1. Did you notice any symbolism?
  2. What foreshadowing did you notice? 


  1. Use one adjective to describe the writing itself.
  2. What would you change if you could rewrite Loot?


  1. What did you love most about the book?
  2. Did the book change any views/opinions that you have?

Loot - Tania James