If you're in Brighton on February 24 2011 you can catch author Michael Arditti reading from Jubilate at The Dome. It's his 8th novel and is the first set in the pilgrimage town of Lourdes since Zola wrote about it back in the 1890s. Jubilate is a tale of illicit love in extreme circumstances. The author's chosen an extraordinary setting and truth be told I am mad with myself for not thinking of it first..
I haven't read it yet but it definitely sounds like my kind of thing
And it's been getting some very good notices. Here's the last line from The Independent review:
By the way, I would recommend every last word ever written by Zola and at the beginning of his novel Lourdes there is a perfect example of flashback.Closing this novel after reading the last page, one briefly believes in miracles, at least of the human redemption kind.
The opening scene is a crowded train of pilgrims en route to Lourdes and a priest reflects on why each of the passengers are making the journey - in essence an introduction to the main characters. The back stories are rich in detail but we never forget that we are rattling through the French countryside because every so often the priest's thoughts are interrupted: someone knocks against him, there's a train announcement, he is offered refreshment...so we have a perfect balance between the flashbacks and the 'now' of the story.
Read it if you want to see how flashbacks should be done.