Three I would like to meet are Huckleberry Finn, Lestat de Lioncourt (from the Vampire Chronicles) and Albus Dumbledore (from Harry Potter). I think Lestat might be my #1. I would have names Lord of the Rings Characters but I couldn't decide which ones were most important. :)
Oh you have some wonderful reading ahead of you! Her most famous novel was made into the movie Gigi...she was the first woman ever named to the French Legion of Honor and had quite a controversial and crazy life--a real bohemian artist. Her writing is incredibly sensory (and sensual) and she wrote about nature, life, LOTS of love. She saw Leslie Caron at the casino in Monte Carlo and cast her in the movie/musical Gigi. I think Collete died in the early 1960's. Try wikipedia...
Just got back from a book club discussion of The People of the Book by Geraldine brooks. IT's a very good read about a book conservator who is reparing a valuable old book. Brooks tells great stories about the people in the past who saved and rescued the book. Partially based on history and a real book, too.
I have to add Kvothe from Patrick Rothfuss' Kingkiller Chronicles to my list of all time favorite characters who I'd love to spend a day with. He's an amazing character you can't help but love, even if he is a bit full of himself at times ;)