When A Little Lower than the Angels appeared in 1942, its author and recent Brigham Young University graduate Virginia Sorensen was overwhelmed by the positive national attention. Clifton Fadiman, writing for The New Yorker, noted how "convincingly explores . . . the tragic, comic, and grotesque problems of plural marriage."
Recognized as a Mormon classic twenty years after its release, The Backslider features longstanding Christian conflicts played out in a scenic, sparsely populated area of southern Utah. A young ranch-hand, Frank Windham, conceives of God as an implacable enemy of human appetite. He is a dedicated sinner until family tragedy catapults him into an arcane form of penitence preached among frontier Mormons.