Bookcover graphic and link to page for Bitter Sweet Truth Bookcover graphic and link to page for Panchtantra Bookcover graphic and link to page for UNWANTED! Bookcover graphic and link to page for Peacock and the Gum Tree





Book cover of Bitter Sweet Truth


In her search for identity, the author, Esther Lyons, who was left deserted in India by her father, Michael Delisle Lyons, SJ of Detroit, Michigan, discovered that her father was the grandson of Senator Delisle of Delray, Michigan, and a direct descendant of Francois Bienvenu "dit" Delisle, one of the first Frenchman who developed Detroit around 1700. Francois Bienvenu had to put up with a lot of struggle with the Jesuits in the beginning of Detroit. One of the descendants of Francois Bienvenu was the DuPlessis, the Premier of Quebec, Canada, another was the Lord of the Region of Champagne, Francois Bienvenu. He came from one of the wealthiest families of France. His wife was Madam Elanora De Grandmaison.


Fr Michael Delisle Lyons' father was Patrick Lyons, whose ancestors immigrated from Ireland, during the potato famine and settled in Ohio, USA. This book would interest anyone who has experienced a family break-up or been victimized by class discrimination. It is a study of determination, coming of age, and the search for one's origins.


The chapter on her successful search for her Jesuit priest father in the USA in 1965 makes fascinating reading. Esther Lyons had no photographs, only the memory of his voice when he left her at the age of three in India.


The author remains a Christian and she describes this autobiography as a healing process for her.


The story is about culture, class discrimination, experience, history, search, identity, loss, achievements, anger and healing.


The book was updated and re-launched in 2005.

You can purchase the book from the following sources:

1. Author

2. CTR

3. Amazon

4. Bookmasters


You can download an "mp3" version of an interview by VZYZGOTH radio of Detroit in which this book, amongst other things, is discussed at length. Grab it while you can; the radio station can only make it available for about a month!







AT LONG LAST, the verdict that my sister Violet and I had been waiting for was delivered. On October 9, 2002, the Cleveland district office issued a recommended decision concluding that my father, Michael D. Lyons was “a covered beryllium employee“ as defied in 42 U.S.C. 73841(7); that he was exposed to beryllium in the performance of duty and that he was diagnosed with chronic beryllium disease, a covered occupational illness. Their recommended decision also concluded that my sister, Violet, and I were the surviving children of Rev. Fr Michael D. Lyons SJ and that we were entitled to compensation pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 7384s. It was not the compensation money, but it was the recognition of us as daughters of Rev Fr. Michael D. Lyons SJ, which made all the difference. The fact that my sister and I alone, and no one else – not even the Church – could claim this compensation made my heart sing. The legitimacy and validity that had eluded us for so long was now finally within reach . . . . .






Unwanted! is the memoir of an Anglo-Indian daughter of a Roman Catholic priest. The transgressions of her birth and the birth of her sister during the mid-twentieth century, of having a father who was supposed to be celibate, was severe in the eyes of society at the time; and so she suffered discrimination from the Hindus of India, who did not share her Christian religion and accused her of having loose morality because of her father, and the Church itself, which refused to allow her to become a nun or help her struggle to survive in poverty.


She and her sister were declared orphans at a young age even though their parents were alive; a childhood robbed of innocence and burdened with undeserved guilt prompted her into an ill-fated marriage to a chronic liar with a verbally abusive personality. Yet despite her hardships, she found the resilience to pursue a teaching career, raise children (one born intellectually and physically handicapped due to her husband's genetic background), and eventually forge a new life for herself in the unfamiliar land of Australia.


At last she experienced the miracle of contact with relatives from her father's side - though he was a distant figure and a poor father to her, who kept her existence secret for many years, the truth came out after his death and she experienced what she had always dreamed of: being part of a large, respectable and loving family.


Unwanted! is a compelling true story, from the perspective of a woman who struggled against poverty, discrimination, and being an outcast in two worlds, yet whose achievements and hard-learned lessons speak for themselves.


Highly recommended.

James A Cox

The Midwest Book Review


This autobiography is a powerful work written by a courages author, but it requires the reader to cope with a mass of minutiae and the authors encyclopedic memory recalling events and conversation set pieces in microscopic detail. Father Michael Lyons was sent back to the US when Esther was four years old, never to return to India. The author did not know who her father was until she discovered files establishing the truth. She was 16. Until then she had been aware of being unwanted, something of a scandal, living in near poverty. The church authorities were kind but kept her at a distance and the Anglo-Indian attitude of maintaining respectability at all costs gives a profound glimpse into this sub culture.


The search for her father is an account of great determination against almost unbelievable odds. Her experience as a single teacher at Carnarvon High School in NW Australia maybe amusing for the Australian reader and underlines the casual promiscuity that we take for granted in western culture. Despite the minutiae mentioned earlier the reader will be encouraged by the triumph of the human spirit.

Alfred Holland

Melbourne paper

VIC Australia

Every now and then a book lands in your lap which you simply cannot put down. UNWANTED! is such a book. The author tells her fascinating story in a simple and readable manner. Set in Northern India from the 1940's to the 1980's, it is the wrenching tale of a girl born of a union between an American Jesuit priest and an Indian Catholic nun. This book beckons on several levels. On one level the book is a personal odyssey of discovery and eventual healing. On another level it is the story of a single mother's heroic struggle to give her children a better life in the face of poverty and prejudice. The book offers valuable insights into what is was like growing up in Indian-Christian and Anglo-Indian communities in North India. The author lives in Sydney NSW, Australia, where she teaches children with learning difficulties and behavioural problems. UNWANTED! is highly recommended.

Clayton Roberts

Old La Martiniere Association of Australia

UNWANTED! is a heart-breaking search of a child at home and abroad for a father who went away when she was three-and-half years old, the tribulations of alienation from, and rejection by one's own society, the despair of youth finding little reason to count blessings through adulthood. The author harbours no animosity towards the Catholic Church, even if she does question its hierarchical attitude. The language is simple and straight forward, the style is realistic and corresponds to a true account, the tone is very personal and touching. The author uncovers her troubled life in a totally unaffected way, confronting us, nevertheless, with a very poignant picture.

Michael Flannery

The Statesman of India
29th March 1996

This autobiography is set initially in Northern India, where the author was born in the 1940's. It describes her experiences in India and then the USA - where her Father lived, and concludes in Australia in the 1980's. The book is interesting mainly for the insight it provides into the Anglo-Indian and Indian cultures and how they impacted on each other. A second and less important reason for reading the book is that the author was the illegitimate daughter of an American Jesuit priest and an Indian Catholic nun. Whilst the book was probably published because of the illegitimacy issue and the possibility that this might increase sales, I believe the book has much more to offer the reader.


For the reader interested in the interplay of different cultures the author provides a quite detailed description of events in her life and how they impacted on her. The reader is given an impression, by the characters in the book, of a style of English spoken during the 1940's and 1950's in India by the Anglo-Indians. Further, many of their behaviours and actions are explained in terms of the socio-cultural milieu that operated at the time. The Anglo-Indians had their own subculture and much of this subculture with its own values, lifestyle and way of talking are captured here.


The author describes a number of interesting and amusing experiences and it helps to understand them if one has lived in the subcontinent. One such incident was when she was accused of being a Pakistani spy by a railway guard because she was carrying a suspicious package. It turned out that the package was a transistor radio that she had bought for her mother. Another issue that she raises is that of the double standard that often characterises people. While condemning somebody else for not living by particular standards we tend to be much more forgiving of ourselves when we transgress those standards.


While I have reservations about the emphasis placed on the author's beginnings as the love child of an American Jesuit priest and an Indian Catholic nun I believe many people will find the book interesting for other reasons. It describes a place and a time that lives on only in the memories of many people. The India of today is a vastly different place to that in the 1940's and 1950's and the Anglo-Indians and Indians of today are a very different people.

Adrian Gilbert

Anglo-Indian Association

Melbourne VIC Australia


What an extraordinary story!! Thank you for being force enough to write such a powerful, inspiring story. Written by a lady of great gifts - courage, truth, integrity, intelligence, forgiveness...

Br Charles
Marist Catholic Brother



It is probably the most frank and honest account that I have ever read by an Anglo-Indian. That is what makes it unique. It holds the readers interest all the way through.

James Sinclair


A highly recommended read. Very few autobiographies are written with such candour, artistry and intense passion as this one. Esther Mary Lyons has packed her story with unbelievable details and weaved an intricate and emotive plot with consummate ease.

Bish Mukherjee
Indian Link


The story allows the reader to perceive it from many different points of view: some may identify with the actual events and relate them to their own experience; some may see oppression of a woman by man; some may see a mother's devotion and love for her children....


Gail Moreau

French Canadian Historical Society of Michigan



The book offers valuable insights into what is like growing up in Indian-Christian and Anglo-Indian Communities in Norther India.

Clayton Roberts
Old La Martiniere Association of Australia



[ back to the top ]



Content © 2005 Esther Mary Lyons   |   Website Template and Design © Xara Webstyle4   |   Style adapted for this site by Fletch


[  Home  |  Genealogy  |  Books  |  Essays  |  Links  |  Photogallery  |  Guestbook  |  Sitemap  ]