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photo by Mariel Kolmschot

Pia de Jong is a prize-winning literary novelist and newspaper columnist who moved to the U.S. from Amsterdam in 2012. Her memoir, Saving Charlotte: A Mother and the Power of Intuition, is her first book in English.

Saving Charlotte: A Mother and the Power of Intuition

Best-selling author Pia de Jong’s vivid memoir about her newborn daughter’s battle with leukemia and the startling decision that led to her recovery.

Video: Pia de Jong talks about the amazing story behind “Saving Charlotte”

When her newborn daughter Charlotte is diagnosed with a rare and deadly leukemia, Pia and her husband Robbert make a momentous decision: they reject potentially devastating chemotherapy and instead choose to “wait for what will come.” As the following year unfolds, Pia enters a disorienting world of doctors, medical procedures, and a colorful cast of neighbors and protectors in her native Amsterdam. Her seventeenth-century canal house becomes her inner sanctum, a private “cocoon” where she sweeps away distractions in order to give Charlotte the unfiltered love and strength she needs. Pia’s instinctive decision, now known as “watchful waiting,” has become another viable medical option in many cases like Charlotte’s.

This deeply felt memoir reveals the galvanizing impact one child can have on a family, a neighborhood, and a worldwide medical community. Vivid and immersive, Saving Charlotte is also a portrait of one woman’s brave voyage of love, of hope, and, in its inspiring climax, of self-discovery.

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Latest Articles, Columns, Short Stories

Angelsinamerica Eliane
Illustration by Eliane Gerrits

I grew up with angels. My Catholic youth was full of stories about sublime beings who descended from heaven to warn us, to help us, and to predict our future. Angels arrived in my dreams, smoothing their feathers in gleams of blindingly white light.
  Angels were not always beautiful and nice. On the wall at my school was a print by Gustave Dore showing the biblical Jacob wrestling with a mysterious angel. Jacob struggles until daybreak with the vastly larger angel looming over him. I held my breath whenever I passed it.
   But not in my wildest dreams did I foresee the struggle that Prior Walter has with his angel in the play, “Angels in America.” This iconic and acclaimed work by Tony Kushner is now celebrating its triumphant return to Broadway 25 years after its premiere.

Dyson Eliane
Illustration by Eliane Gerrits

In 1989 I moved to Princeton for the first time, crossing the wide ocean from Amsterdam. During our farewells at the airport, my father gave me a box filled with airmail stationery; my mother presented a fountain pen. I knew what to do. I still remember how, in my new apartment, I let the thin blue sheets slide through my fingers. The fountain pen had leaked during the flight. “I am writing my first letter on my newly purchased kitchen table!” I announced. “The house feels hollow, our stuff has not yet arrived. I miss my teapot.”

The recently published autobiography, “Maker of Patterns,” by the physicist Freeman Dyson, who has been a professor at the Institute for Advanced Study for 70 years, consists solely of the many letters he sent to his family over the years. He wrote the first one when he started studying at the age of seventeen at Cambridge University.

Vasilisa Eliane
Illustration by Eliane Gerrits

Vasilisa is waiting for me at the front door. The 10-year-old girl wears a red dress with white polka dots that covers a fluffly petticoat. Her blonde hair is set in tight curls that frame her round face. Before I can say anything, she drops into a curtsey and hands me a red lollipop. The green parakeet perched on her shoulder looks at me expectantly.

Screen Shot 2018 03 20 At 4 53 01 Pm
Additional photos: https://glserne.home.xs4all.nl/John.Adams/web.2018.03.19%20John.Adams.event.with.Robbert.Dijkgraaf.and.Pia.de.Jong/index_4.html

The John Adams Institute is happy to announce our upcoming event ‘An Evening with Robbert Dijkgraaf & Pia de Jong’. During this evening Dijkgraaf and De Jong will speak about their work and about academic and family life in the United States. The audience will be given a unique insight in the life and work of this multi-talented couple.

Screen Shot 2018 01 24 At 4 49 23 Pm
Illustration by Eliane Gerrits

Our trip in the darkness to the top of a hill in Silicon Valley ends in front of a barred gate. We leave our car and climb into a golf cart with a cheerful driver in a spotless white uniform behind the wheel. Beyond the gate are trees displayed by purple floodlights. Fountains are spraying pink water. Carp glide in iridescent ponds. I imagine myself in a high-tech version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Before I can say that I’m chilly, the driver hands me a blanket. Around us are identical golf carts with drivers and guests with blankets over their knees. We all received the golden invitation from this modern Willy Wonka.