I was delighted to find this lint reference somewhat early in the book (on page 147):
Retta ran over to her friend, and sat down beside her. "Look at you! You are overcome on my behalf! You care about me do!" Retta put her arm around Alma's waist, just as she had done on the day they met, and embraced her closely. "I must confess that I am still a bit overcome myself. What would such a clever man want with a silly bit of lint like me?..."
If you are looking for a book you can really settle into for a week or so (I'm a slow reader; maybe you'd read the nearly 500 pages much quicker), The Signature of All Things is highly recommended.